A LOCAL legislator is blaming the lack of a final route and other aspects of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) for the non-approval of the city’s Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP), which has affected some public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers.
Cebu City Councilor Rey Gealon, who also chairs the Traffic Management and Coordination Committee, was surprised after learning during the executive session on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, that another feasibility study is needed to come up with the final route.
Gealon said Cebu City’s final LPTRP is dependent on this.
Benedicto Guia, program manager of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), said a feasibility study will have to be conducted to determine the economic viability of the project since the result will eventually dictate the route the buses will officially traverse.
“It (final route) might go outside the given the route, we still don’t know,” Guia told members of the City Council.
The current length of the BRT’s dedicated lane is 13.8 kilometers, based on previous reports.
The update did not sit well with Gealon, who said the City’s lack of an LPTRP is not due to its failure to comply with any requirement of law, rule or regulation or its ineptness or negligence.
Instead he blamed the DOTR.
“What a blunder!” he said.
Gealon said the DOTr has not approved the city’s LPTRP despite having been filed and re-filed continually at varying times during different administrations through the City Planning and Development Office.
“By that admission is the exact reason why LPTRP is in limbo. The reason why our drivers and operators of public utility vehicles have been pestering us, and rightfully so, for the longest time, on what route they will take,” he said.
Modern jeepneys operated by Bagong Jeep (Beep) ceased operations for six months starting last Oct. 1, 2023, leading to the suspension of its 58 units plying the Cebu City Hall to IT Park, Banawa to Panagdait, Tabunok to IT Park, and Minglanilla to IT Park routes.
Its drivers and passenger assistance officers have been on floating status since.
Based on previous reports of SunStar Cebu, one factor that contributed to the suspension was the delay in the approval of a route modification request that affected Beep’s ability to maintain its market position and profitability.
The LPTRP is a plan detailing the route network, mode, and required number of units per mode for delivering land transport service, which shall be the minimum requirement prescribed for the issuance of PUV franchises.
“This is a genuine concern of PUV operators and drivers as they are only operating on a temporary basis, which does not help at all, if only to give them peace of mind in their livelihood -- this being their means of living,” said Gealon.
Guia, in response to Gealon’s concern, acknowledged that they already have a copy of the LPTRP the City submitted, saying it is being looked into by a consultant.
He said that once Package 1 of the CBRT is completed, they will utilize the Cibus to ply the route.
The Cibus will adopt the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board fare rate, he said.
However, Guia said the feasibility study will determine the number of buses based on the projected number of ridership, as well as the model of the buses that will be deployed in relation to operations and maintenance viability.
He said they are still looking whether to acquire the buses through a public-private partnership or by other means.
Guia said they will adopt necessary measures once the result of the feasibility study comes out.