Modern buses to bring tourists to resort village at foot of Mt. Apo
DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — Tourists who want to explore the scenic adventure spots at the foot of Mt. Apo in Barangay Kapatagan here can now easily reach the area through the newly launched modern buses plying the route from Digos City to the village and all the way to Bansalan town of Davao del Sur province.
Nonito Llanos III, director of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Davao region, said eight modern buses, equipped with global positioning system and free Wi-Fi, have started serving the Digos City to Kapatagan and Bansalan route since Jan. 25, for the convenience not only of residents but also tourists seeking ecotourism adventures at the foot of the country’s highest peak.
Llanos and officials of Bansalan town and Digos City awarded the provisional authority to operate to the buses operated by the Kapatagan Transport Cooperative (Katco) on Jan. 25, as part of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program that encouraged drivers and operators across the country to shift into using public transport vehicles, considered to be more efficient and less harmful to the environment as these adhered to the European carbon emission standards.
The 25-seat buses will charge each passenger P65 for the trip from this city proper to Kapatagan, which is cheaper than the P165 collected by motorcycle cabs, or “tricabs,” plying the route.
“This is a different concept from the past,” said Llanos during the vehicles’ turnover outside the Barangay Hall of Kapatagan, a village 36 kilometers from this city’s national highway. “This time, it is the stakeholders who are granted the power to identify which routes badly need modern vehicles for the convenience of the riding public,” he added.
According to Llanos, Katco is entitled to 15 Class-3 modernized utility vehicles but only eight buses have been released so far by its supplier Autokid, with the Development Bank of the Philippines as the financial provider. Katco’s application was approved only in April last year.
Not a competition
Juanito Morales, Kapatagan village chair, assured the tricab operators that the buses would only pick up passengers at the terminal area in Kapatagan and would not affect the routes that they served.
Morales told the 160 tricab operators who attended the launching that the presence of buses would, in fact, increase the number of people coming to the area, which would mean more passengers for them to serve.
Digos Councilor Dominic Fernandez also announced the city council would be issuing special permits for tricab drivers and operators as a gesture of support and ensure that their livelihood would be protected. Board Member Ayo, who heads the transport committee at the Provincial Board, also backed the proposal.