Aquino announces new testing of Metro bus schemeBy Carmel Loise Matus, Irene R. Sino Cruz
CEBU CITY, Philippines — After the first experiment was marred by problems, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will again be tested in Metro Manila, according to President Benigno Aquino III.
In a news conference in Cebu on Friday, President Aquino did not say when the new test would happen but he emphasized that the BRT experiment should be held in Metro Manila again as it had the capacity to absorb traffic even if one lane would be used for BRT buses.
Aquino said the first experiment was implemented along Commonwealth Ave. but the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) apprehended the participating buses due to miscommunication among various agencies.
He said there would be a second experiment to determine if the BRT could be better than the LRT system, which was also pushed by Rep. Eddie Gullas of the Cebu 1st district.
The President, however, didn’t say when the phase 2 would be conducted.
He only cited the disadvantage in putting up an LRT system, including the construction of the rail itself which has to be in an elevated platform, the effect on historical buildings and structures and the need to have local government officials agree on the route.
The BRT system, which was first proposed by Rep. Tomas Osmeña, is a mode of transportation first implemented in Curitiba, Brazil, that requires buses to follow a dedicated lane and elevated platforms for waiting passengers.
The National Economic and Development Authority had deferred the approval of the BRT project for further study on its viability.
In a press conference held at the Ibo barangay (village) hall here before embarking on three campaign sorties on Friday, President Aquino said one of the quick solutions for the traffic problem in Cebu would be the BRT.
However, since one lane should be set aside for these buses, the BRT experiment might cause more traffic problems in Cebu, the President said.
“We are in the experimental stage. We want to prove or disprove the adaptability of this concept to the Philippine setting.”
If implemented, the BRT system would require an investment of about P9 billion for the dedicated lane for buses, equipment to give buses priority in the traffic light and the elevated waiting area, he said.
Aquino, however, maintained that there would be no problem on funding, as the peso has appreciated against the dollar and the country could get lower-interest loans due to its higher investment rating.
But the President said that before the government could provide funding for the project, it must make sure that the money would benefit the community.