A CANADIAN professor teaching in the US believes that a proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will not be viable in Cebu.
During the Understanding Choices Forum on Metropolitan Management hosted by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi), Dr. Douglas Webster, a professor of East Asian Urbanization at the Arizona State University, said Cebu’s roads are too narrow for a BRT to work well.
Webster said that while the BRT system is successful in Latin America, it can only work if the government invests on infrastructure, such as dedicating special roads solely for BRT.
“I just don’t see how you can do it (implement BRT in Cebu) physically,” Webster said.
Even though not as low cost as the BRT, Webster expressed support for the introduction of Light Rail Transit (LRT) and heavy rail rapid transit systems because it does not compete with the current traffic and can transport close to 20,000 people in just an hour.
“The only option is either to go up through LRT or go underground, or not to rule out heavy rail,” Webster said.
But Webster warns the National Government against implementing LRT like the one in Metro Manila, which was criticized during the Aquino administration.
He said LRT could work but a shift to heavy rail is more viable especially in an area with a growing population such as Cebu.
Webster also urged urban planners to implement transit-oriented development (TOD), wherein mixed-use residential and commercial areas are designed to maximize access to public transport, at the same time, dissuading the ownership of automobiles.
The proposed implementation of the BRT in Cebu was one of the priority projects of the Aquino administration but was shelved after its funding was not included in the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Lawyer Rafael Yap, project manager of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit Project Implementation Unit, said the project was placed on hold as they need to consult the new administration.
The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has prioritized the establishment of LRT lines outside Metro Manila, particularly in Cebu and Davao.
He also expressed support for the implementation of a national railway system.
Due to the worsening traffic situation across the country, Duterte has also asked Congress to give him emergency powers to solve it.