The country’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will get P1.3 billion in funding next year, Cebu Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. announced.
The allocation for the Cebu BRT project is among the items in the 2016 budget of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) for motor vehicle traffic decongestion, according to Gullas, a member of the House committee on public works and highways.
“The funding will be used to put up the infrastructure as well as facilities required for the BRT, including the exclusive bus lanes and stations,” Gullas said.
“Part of the money will also be used to pay for the costs of right of way acquisition and detailed engineering design, among others,” he added.
With the funding, the lawmaker said the system should be on track for completion by the first quarter of 2018.
The project is patterned after tested BRT models in Seoul, South Korea and Guangzhou, China.
Outside Cebu, the DOTC has also allotted an initial P208 million next year for BRT systems in Metro Manila — along EDSA and Quezon Avenue.
In April, the DOTC awarded the detailed engineering design and construction supervision contract for the Cebu BRT to South Korea’s Kunhwa Engineering & Consulting Co. Ltd.
As envisioned, the Cebu BRT will involve 176 buses running one after the other via 16 kilometers of segregated lanes from Barangay Bulacao Pardo in Cebu City’s south district to Barangay Talamban in the north district, with a link to the South Road Properties.
Each bus will run at an average speed of 26 kilometers per hour and drop by 33 stations, with a bus arriving at each station every five minutes. The private sector will operate the buses.
Once fully operational, the BRT is projected to serve some 330,000 passengers every day.
“We want the BRT to succeed in providing Cebuanos an easier public transport system, and in alleviating Metro Cebu’s traffic jams,” Gullas said.
“However, we also want the DOTC to push this early for an elevated light rail project, which is the best strategy to assure Cebuanos a truly fast and reliable mode of mass transport,” he said.
Gullas is author of House Bill 1338, which seeks to establish the Cebu Light Rail Transit System (LRT) for operation in Metro Cebu. The bill was first filed by his grandfather, former Rep. Eduardo Gullas, in the previous Congress.
The proposed overhead LRT would run between Talisay City and Mandaue City.
“An LRT system is the only way we can cope with future demand for a bigger mode of public transport, considering that Metro Cebu’s population is expected to hit five million by 2050. And it will take a long time to build the system, so the DOTC should get the planning started now,” Gullas said.
Due to overcrowding, he warned that Metro Cebu would find it increasingly difficult to move people and goods around in the years ahead.
“Since most of our thoroughfares can no longer be widened, the only option left is to put up an elevated LRT system, unless we can find a way to build new road tunnels underground,” he pointed out.
The fastest-growing urban center outside Metro Manila, Metro Cebu groups the seven cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Danao, Talisay, Naga and Carcar, plus the six municipalities of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Cordova, Minglanilla and San Fernando.