Council to DOTr: Expedite Cebu BRT completion

CEBU. Workers assemble the roof or shed for the BRT bus station at Capitol Area in Cebu City on January 24, 2024.
CEBU. Workers assemble the roof or shed for the BRT bus station at Capitol Area in Cebu City on January 24, 2024.Photo from Cebu Bus Rapid Transit Facebook page

THE “traffic mess” caused by the delay in the construction of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) has prompted the Cebu City Council to call the attention of the transportation agency to expedite the completion of the mass transportation system project.

The request was made through a resolution filed by Cebu City Councilor Rey Gealon, who also chairs the Traffic Management and Coordination Committee (TMCC). The resolution was approved by the Council during their regular session on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024.

A copy of the resolution was sent to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for its information and guidance.

The move comes barely a month after other city councilors suggested reassessing the project’s viability with the view to possibly halting the CBRT project altogether, after saying that similar BRT systems in other Asian nations had failed to address traffic.

In his resolution, Gealon said the delay in the construction of the mass transit system project had caused “unnecessary traffic congestion in the area resulting in longer trip times, loss of productivity, and even major impacts like damage to vehicles, and injuries to drivers and passengers.”

He also said it has been creating a “traffic mess” and has financially affected the government’s financial disposition.

“It is therefore requested that DOTr expedite the completion of the CBRT project to reduce the inconvenience and impact that it has on Cebuanos and all people traversing the road,” reads a portion of the resolution.

The National Economic and Development Authority approved last November the extension of the implementation period of the BRT project until the end of December 2027.

The DOTr had initially targeted to complete the entire project in 2025.

Gealon stated in his resolution that the extension of the implementation period was due to the delays in design changes.

Last November, SunStar Cebu reported that the project’s completion date had been pushed to 2027 due to changes in the design, including the inclusion of Package 4, which is a dedicated lane from Barangay Bulacao to Mambaling; extension of the alignment from Ayala to Cebu IT Park; a rotunda underneath the Mambaling flyover; and the conversion of a mixed traffic lane along the South Road Properties (SRP) coastal road and along F. Vestil St., according to BRT project manager Norvin Imbong.

Current project status

According to a document uploaded on the World Bank website on Jan. 24, the project’s loan grantor has observed that over the last 12 months, the project has made notable progress, which includes the start of the construction of Package 1 of the project.

The Cebu City Government broke ground on the project on Feb. 27, 2023 and the construction began weeks after that.

Imbong said that as of Jan. 26, more than 10 months since the construction of the BRT started, the dedicated lanes for Package 1 are now 88.6 percent complete.

Package 1 spans 2.38 kilometers from the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) on N. Bacalso Ave. to the front of the Capitol building on Osmeña Blvd.

In a text message on Friday, Feb. 2, Imbong said they were now 25 percent complete in terms of putting up street lights and 22.5 percent for the drainage.

Imbong also said they have now started the installation of the stainless steel frames for the bus station in the Capitol area.

For Packages 2 and 3 of the project, Imbong said civil works will still be procured this year.

Package 2 is composed of the routes from the Capitol to Cebu IT Park in Barangay Lahug and another route from the CSBT to the SRP.

Package 3 will include routes from the Cebu IT Park to Barangay Talamban and from the SRP to Talisay City. It will also include a feeder line system which will run over mixed traffic, with two feeder terminals in 76 bus stops across Cebu City and Talisay City.

The CBRT project is expected to cater to 60,000 passengers daily in its first year of operation, and up to 160,000 passengers once fully operational, according to the DOTr. / JJL

Failure

Last Jan. 10, Cebu City Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera said she wanted the council “to take a stand and stop the CBRT project” after saying the BRT system had failed to fully address the traffic and transportation problems of countries that already had them.

Pesquera made the remarks after Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, committee on transportation chairman, in a privilege speech, urged the City Council to redirect efforts and resources toward finding “more viable traffic solutions” than the CBRT.

Cuenco said the CBRT project was “manifesting the symptoms of the failed BRT systems in Hanoi, Vietnam; Bangkok, Thailand; and Delhi, India.”

He said the installation of BRT systems on narrow roads means less space for those driving private vehicles, delivery trucks and motorcycles, which are the challenges now faced by other countries, and that the prolonged implementation period since the CBRT was first proposed in 1996 could now adversely impact the CBRT’s effectiveness.

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