Bus rapid transit system to push through in Cebu, Quezon Avenue

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) decided to push through with bus rapid transit (BRT) projects in Cebu and along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, after scrapping plans earlier this year.

In a media briefing on Wednesday, September 19, Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark de Leon said a technical inspection with the World Bank affirmed the viability of BRTs for Cebu and Quezon Avenue.

"Basically, nagkaroon kami ng inspection with the World Bank team, and also joined by NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), and in-evaluate natin iyong conditions ng corridor – ng corridor ng Cebu and also Quezon Avenue. And we found out na posibleng mag-run pa iyong BRT in these corridors," De Leon said.

(Basically, we had an inspection with the World Bank team, and also joined by NEDA, and we evaluated the conditions of the corridors – the Cebu corridor and also Quezon Avenue. And we found out that it is possible to run a BRT in these corridors.)

The DOTr earlier wrote to the Department of Finance (DOF), seeking the cancellation of the Metro Manila and Cebu BRT projects, citing physical infrastructure constraints. (READ: DOTr to scrap bus rapid transit project)

De Leon said on Wednesday that they have signed a letter to the DOF, expressing intent to push through with the Quezon Avenue project. In Cebu, they have signed a contract with a technical support consultant for the project.

"Detailed engineering design will proceed this year [for the Quezon Avenue BRT], so we only have to go through the procurement stage. And in 3 years' time, we will have a BRT," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

In a text message to Rappler, De Leon also said both BRT projects will be part of an "intermodal and integrated transport system."

"We did some analysis and site inspections similar to what we did in Cebu. We will implement the BRT only in segments deemed possible…. [T]here will be some sections that BRT is very difficult [along Quezon Avenue]. [It is] the same in Cebu," he said.

Two BRT projects were supposed to be implemented in Metro Manila. The P4.8-billion ($88.84-million) Line 1 project was supposed to have a 12.3-kilometer route from the Quezon Memorial Circle to the Manila City Hall via Quezon Avenue.

Line 2, which was supposed to cover a 48.6-kilometer route along EDSA, remains canceled. Another technical inspection for the project was set to be conducted, but De Leon said the funding institution "backed out." (READ: Strong political will? Experts hit 'very slow' rollout of transportation projects)

The Cebu BRT would cost around P16 billion ($296.13 million), higher than the earlier P11-billion ($203.61-million) estimate, due to additional right-of-way acquisition expenses.

The Quezon Avenue and Cebu BRT projects will be funded through an official development assistance agreement with the World Bank and the French Development Agency.

In 2017, the NEDA Board identified these as part of the 75 high-impact priority projects of the government. – Rappler.com

P54.06 = $1

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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