BRT’s sur­vival

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION -

Again, the fate of the Bus Rapid Tran­sit (BRT) lies not in the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTr), as Pres­i­den­tial As­sis­tant for the Visayas Michael Dino said, but in the hands of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte who may or may not make the fi­nal de­ci­sion on the project.

He may not if he al­lows the DOTr to pro­ceed with the project as is, con­fi­dent that all the stud­ies and pro­jec­tions made by qual­i­fied pro­po­nents are spot on and will trans­late to a smooth com­ple­tion of the BRT.

It’s the ac­tual im­ple­men­ta­tion of the BRT that will con­tin­u­ally pose prob­lems and chal­lenges to the Cebu City gov­ern­ment. But what project or pro­gram doesn’t have prob­lems or chal­lenges any­way?

In ap­prov­ing the ad­di­tional bud­get for road rightof-way, the Na­tional Eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Author­ity (Neda) rec­og­nized the BRT’s vi­a­bil­ity as a mass trans­port sys­tem for Cebu City and re­fused to be side­tracked on Dino’s counter-pro­posal of a Light Rail­way Tran­sit (LRT) sub­way project that was de­liv­ered late in the day.

Dino had some­how man­aged to con­vince Neda Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Ernesto Per­nia in an hour’s meet­ing to is­sue a state­ment that placed on hold the BRT un­til a re­view of Dino’s pet sub­way project is pre­sented to the agen­cies con­cerned.

Dino may prob­a­bly think that he can also per­suade Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Ar­turo Tu­gade to agree to his point of view that the BRT will “cause more harm than good” and dump the project that was backed up by sev­eral years’ worth of stud­ies and pro­jec­tions made by trans­port ex­perts both here and abroad.

In ap­prov­ing the ad­di­tional bud­get for the BRT, City Hall can now pro­ceed with road right-of-way pro­ceed­ings with the lot own­ers whose prop­er­ties will be af­fected by the in­stal­la­tion of ter­mi­nals that will house the buses.

An al­lo­cated bud­get means that un­like the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec), which has yet to bid out the ma­te­ri­als pend­ing pas­sage of a law to post­pone the barangay elec­tions, the Cebu City gov­ern­ment can pro­ceed with their deal­ings with prop­erty own­ers in earnest.

Still, there are those stop­ping the BRT on its tracks, and they ob­vi­ously aligned with Dino in lob­by­ing for his pet LRT sub­way project. They wanted copies of the BRT project study, which has over 1,000 pages, to poke holes on its vi­a­bil­ity.

Among the rea­sons cited is the ab­sence of ded­i­cated lanes on cer­tain routes and al­low­ing BRT units to mix with reg­u­lar traf­fic in iden­ti­fied traf­fic hot spots. And they pointed to other coun­tries and even Manila which is said to be en­coun­ter­ing prob­lems with their own BRT project as ev­i­dence that it can­not work in Cebu.

But op­pos­i­tors need to pro­duce more than photos to but­tress their case against the BRT, and that would take time which Cebu-based res­i­dents don’t have on their side.

Let the BRT con­tinue and let Dino and his al­lies make their own case for the Cebu LRT sub­way project with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the BRT.

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