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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cebu BRT Hailed by Foreign and Local Advocates


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The Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DOTC) push to modernize urban mobility by introducing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to the country has garnered praises from foreign and local advocates of democratized, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly transport systems.

“The goal is not simply to modernize transport facilities and improve commuter experience, it is also to provide the public with a better quality of life. Due to the fast, efficient, and convenient features of BRTs, they save passengers the time normally wasted in traffic jams. BRTs allow people to be more productive and to have better access to opportunities,” remarked DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya.

The Cebu BRT project of the DOTC, recently approved by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), was first conceptualized as early as the 1990s. This P 10.6-Billion project is financed by the World Bank through its Clean Technology Fund.

Nigel Paul Villarete, who was City Administrator and later City Planning Officer of Cebu, was in charge of project development. Villarete says that: “The fulfillment of the Cebu BRT will change the face of Metro Cebu forever, and will auger well for the metropolis to become a people-oriented, humane, sustainable, and livable city in the future, where the rich share the same ride with the poor. The BRT is not just a transportation project, it’s an urban improvement project.”

Although the first BRT-style system was operated in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, it was popularized only in 2000 by the Transmilenio BRT system in Bogota, Colombia, which was a centerpiece achievement of its then-mayor, Enrique Peñalosa.

Peñalosa is recognized worldwide for transforming the living standards of Bogota residents through the Transmilenio BRT system. On its first year of implementation, Bogota’s air pollution dropped by 40%, the average travel time decreased by 32%, and road accidents decreased by 90% in areas plied by buses.

In a message sent to Villarete, Peñalosa said: “Please give my congratulations to all Cebuanos for the BRT they have decided to build! I congratulate most particularly all who have had to do with the efforts leading to the final decision to go ahead with the project.”

“The Cebu BRT will do many things: it will help Cebu’s mobility and save transportation time to tens of thousands of Cebuanos, which they will better spend with family and friends; it will help Cebu’s urban structure; it will be a symbol of democracy, as public transport users move faster than those in private cars; it will strengthen Cebuanos’ confidence in their capacity to create their destiny,” he said further.

The Cebu BRT will run on a 23-kilometer corridor having 33 stations. It will have 176 high-quality buses, which will be environmentally-friendly. A detailed engineering design (DED) will be completed by early 2015, to pave the way for the project’s bidding in Q2 of 2015.

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