CBRT management should be transferred to Cebu City, say experts

CBRT management should be transferred to Cebu City, say experts
Amper Campana photo

EXPERTS have recommended the transfer of the management of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project from the Department of Transportation to the City Government of Cebu, saying the success of the project lies in a "competent" project management.

"Let it be done by the city, by Cebu City. They are the proponents of it. Do it yourself," Engr. Rene Santiago, mass transportation expert and consultant, said in an interview after an executive session, which was called for to discuss matters surrounding the project on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

Biggest mishap of BRT?

Santiago recalled telling the World Bank in 2014 that the BRT would fail, attributing 50 percent of the issue to implementation and the other 50 percent to technical aspects.

Santiago said CBRT could not be an exclusive route if it passes in Escario, given the narrowness of the main thoroughfare, emphasizing the plan was for Osmeña; it can still be exclusive due to the wide lane.

“I don't see how you can make it exclusive, that section to go to IT Park. Of course when I look at Mango Avenue it's wider, maybe it can be exclusive,” Santiago said.

Meanwhile, Engr. Nigel Paul Villarete, an urban planner who started the first letter request of the CBRT last 2008, said that “everything went wrong.”

But Villarete said he still supports the CBRT project as a mode of mass transportation.

"So many things that have gone wrong, so many things that have gone astray and it's very difficult for me to look back and say what's that thing that is the (hardest) the most? It is cumulative. It's so hard to correct now," he said.

"But it is still a good project. Let's hope for this first line. I am also hoping for the Bulacao to Ayala," he added.

He said the initial proposal was only from Talamban to Ayala; however, consultants have found that the Bulacao to Ayala route is more viable.

Santiago said the BRT will be in conflict with the current implementation of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization, as there were the same franchises given to the operators with the same line.

Three options

Santiago said there could be three options for the CBRT project: to continue unhampered, change of management, and to terminate it.

“We have three choices for BRT: continue business as usual, let it continue unhampered. You will probably get a product in 2028, if DOTr will be as good as they should be. But that would be a poor probability of happening based on the record for the past 10 years, it has not shown a competent project team,” Santiago said.

Santiago said option 2A could be the proposal of Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, chairman of the committee on transportation, that is, to make the CBRT package 1 a pilot project before proceeding to the other two packages.

“And if you do that, there is a 90 percent probability that it should be terminated because there will be traffic in that short section,” he said.

He said the option 2B, which is a longer section, is to let the whole line be operational, which he said can be done in six months.

“Package A takes almost two years, and then packages 2 and 3 are longer. They say it will be finished in 2027, but if you consider the experience of package 1, it will probably take you to 2030,” Santiago said.

But what will happen to the center islands?

Santiago said he advocated for solutions like underpasses to improve pedestrian crossings in the BRT project, emphasizing their cost-effectiveness and convenience.

However, he criticized the 15-minute overhead crosswalks as punitive, especially for senior citizens.

Santiago insisted on accessibility for BRT stations, suggesting escalators or underpasses, but he condemned the removal of skywalks without replacements, warning of worsened traffic conditions.

Santiago also questioned the safety measures for buses and recalled the Department of Public Works and Highways’ clearance of skywalks higher than bus heights during construction. (AML)

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