LRT over the BRT: Osmeña 0, Dino 1?

There is no more need to de­stroy the BRT be­fore the pub­lic. Re­cent de­vel­op­ments tend to show that it is head­ing to cer­tain death, if it is not dead yet

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION - FRANK MALILONG fm­mali­long@ya­

Two good friends – Joel Gar­gan­era and Jonji Gon­za­lez – sent to me within an hour of each other last Satur­day evening two iden­ti­cal mes­sages ex­plain­ing why the Bus Rapid Tran­sit (BRT) is not good for Cebu. Joel is an in­cum­bent Cebu City councilor while Jonji is an as­sis­tant sec­re­tary in the Of­fice of the Pres­i­den­tial As­sis­tant for the Visayas (OPAV).

Both claimed, how­ever, that their mes­sage “is not po­lit­i­cal” and that they were send­ing it “for the love of Cebu” and “for a bet­ter Cebu.”

The chain mes­sage said there are valid rea­sons for the can­cel­la­tion of the BRT, one of which is that the city has nar­row roads. “Ded­i­cated lanes will re­strict cars to 1 or 2 lanes. The loss of a 3-and-ahalf me­ter-lane of road to BRT only in­creases the odds of wors­en­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion.”

Gar­gan­era and Gon­za­lez fur­ther claimed that the lack of plans to widen the roads ar­gue against the ad­e­quacy of the BRT as a mass trans­port sys­tem. “Worse, the Ayala-Talam­ban sec­tion will not have a ded­i­cated lane. Buses will merge into traf­fic with pri­vate and pub­lic util­ity ve­hi­cles.”

The day af­ter Joel and Jonji sent their ex­actly-worded mes­sages, Sec­re­tary Mike Dino, Jonji’s boss in the OPAV, is­sued a press state­ment an­nounc­ing that a con­sor­tium of Chi­nese and Philip­pine com­pa­nies is work­ing closely with the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment to­wards es­tab­lish­ing a Light Rail Tran­sit (LRT) for Metro Cebu. Does that mean that we will be speak­ing of the BRT in the past tense soon, if not now?

I have no fa­vorites. All that I want to see is the es­tab­lish­ment of a mass trans­port sys­tem to help ad­dress our wors­en­ing traf­fic sit­u­a­tion. BRT or LRT? It does not mat­ter. My beef, how­ever, is that it has been more than 25 years when the BRT was con­ceived and sev­eral agen­cies of the gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing the same Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion that ap­pears to be now fa­vor­ing the ri­val LRT, have re­viewed (metic­u­lously, I sup­pose) and ap­proved the plan and it is only now that they’re telling us that it is not good (a dis­as­ter, to use their ex­act lan­guage) for Cebu?

If it took more than 25 years for the BRT to lan­guish be­fore it was dealt a mor­tal blow (if such is the case), how long will we have to wait be­fore we can have our first ride on the Metro Cebu train? The press re­lease said work should be­gin next year.

Wait, does that mean that they have al­ready awarded the LRT project to the con­sor­tium? Isn’t it that un­der the gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment law, cer­tain pro­cesses have to be fol­lowed be­fore a con­trac­tor can be cho­sen? Or are the pro­po­nents cer­tain that Pres­i­dent Duterte will short-cir­cuit the pro­cesses, us­ing his emer­gency pow­ers, and in­struct the con­sor­tium to get mov­ing?

There is no more need to de­stroy the BRT be­fore the pub­lic. Re­cent de­vel­op­ments tend to show that it is head­ing to cer­tain death, if it is not dead yet. Looks like Mayor To­mas Osmeña lost and Dino won. So Joel and Jonji, the next time you send me chain let­ters, will you just please ex­plain why the LRT will work and when?

Akong gibu­tang og three days kay lisod na man kaayo moin­gon ta og usa lang ka ad­law unya pun-an na pud og laing ad­law. Mahi­nayak ang mga tur­ista nga moadto unya wa diay oper­a­tion didto so ato lang gyud gi-three days.


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