BY MARITES S. VILLAMOR, Visayas Bureau Chief
CEBU CITY — Road right-of-way acquisition and widening to pave the way for dedicated lanes of the bus rapid transit system planned here are targeted to start here next year, local officials said.
An allocation of P975 million as peso counterpart fund for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System project is included in the proposed 2013 budget of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), according to the Budget department’s Web site.
The infrastructure component of the BRT system, which is targeted for roll-out in 2015, as well as consulting services for detailed engineering design will be proposed for funding through a loan from the World Bank, the DoTC announced on Friday last week.
The rolling stock, or the bi-articulated buses, as well as their operation and maintenance, will be opened to the private sector through the public private partnership (PPP) scheme, which is being explored under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) framework, said Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) Chairman Sylvan Jakosalem.
"Actual construction of the bus lanes and stations under the infrastructure component is supposed to start in March 2013," Mr. Jakosalem said in a telephone interview.
Citom, representing the Cebu City government, will be coordinating closely with the DoTC in the implementation of the project.
In a statement, the DoTC said the Cebu BRT will field 176 buses and serve about 330,000 passengers daily starting 2015. A total of 33 stations will be built along the 16-kilometer route, from Bulacao in southern Cebu City to Talamban in the north, with buses arriving every two to five minutes
Mr. Jakosalem said, however, that dedicated bus lanes will initially be established only from Bulacao to Ayala Center Cebu, or more than half of the proposed line.
"We will also be fielding buses from Ayala to Talamban. But this will be an experimental route. There will be no segregated bus lanes from Ayala to Talamban when we start operations in 2015," Mr. Jakosalem said.
Rafael Christopher L. Yap, Citom executive director, said this was one of the recommendations in the draft feasibility study "because of challenges in right-of-way acquisitions in the Banilad area."
"It will be a full BRT service from Bulacao to Ayala and a high bus priority system from Ayala to Talamban. Eventually, there will be segregated bus lanes up to Talamban," he added.
The draft feasibility study, which was prepared by consultant Integrated Transport Planning Ltd., was submitted to the DoTC and the World Bank last Aug. 3, Mr. Yap said.
The World Bank provided the grants that financed the feasibility study as well as the pre-feasibility study, which was completed in 2011.
Mr. Yap said the study is targeted to be finalized by late next month while the detailed engineering design should start by November this year.
The DoTC on Friday last week called for proposals for detailed engineering design and supervision of the transit way during construction.
Cebu City Councilor Nestor Archival, who heads the inter-agency technical working group for the BRT project, said they have reviewed and concurred with the draft study.
It was presented to the city council last week and should be submitted next month to the National Economic and Development Authority Investment Coordination Committee for approval, he added.
"The project has also been endorsed by the RDC (Regional Development Council). The city council is also expected to concur with the study," Mr. Archival said.