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Stop BRT!

By: Erik Espina

I HAVE reprised in several columns on traffic as an “effect” in Metro Manila with the discouraging severity of future, but real prospects (based on reputable studies/statistics) for continued urban living given rising congestion levels, migrant populations, vehicles, malls, condominiums, garbage, pollution etc. A patch-work of a ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ system is one proposal for EDSA, and unfortunately, Metro Cebu.

Supposedly this will ease travel in the “Queen City of the South,” given the latter (like many Philippine cities) imported the spoiled and checkered urban mis-development, zoning, land use etc. in Metro Manila e.g. a junk shop, construction store, adjacent a bakery, a home beside a 20-story condo, a city hall dwarfed by a mall etc. The BRT is an attempt at transplanting the Curitiba System in Brazil where one lane of the road is dedicated for busses.

Certain Cebu politicians and businessmen back the BRT project in Cebu for immediate implementation to profit who?

Fortunately, there are sober voices like former Cebu City Mayor Alvin Garcia and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Dino opposing the move. And for obvious reasons. Statistics will show the following: of 2014 Cebu Province has 650,000 vehicles with 65% (422,500) in Metro Cebu; Nov. 2016, newly registered reached 152,476; labor force in Metro Cebu 1.42 million (Nov. 2015) or 62% of population.

Yet the road space is not expanding. In New Delhi India, BRT was a failure: 1) Congestion levels rose due to BRT lanes; 2) Accidents and jaywalking among pedestrians; 3) Busses breaking down etc. slowing travel time. Note the psyche of Pinoy drivers, the public bus will stop anywhere/everywhere when he sees a passenger.

How about school busses picking-up students? Boom of motorcycles criss-crossing lanes? Travel time will increase, as experienced in other countries. The BRT could work as part of a comprehensive public transport system in new road projects or reclaimed areas but never in old street networks amidst unmitigated wave of urban migration, sprouting buildings, high density areas.