Supporters of the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) allayed fears that the new scheme would displace jeepney drivers.
Cebu City Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias said the BRT, set for operation in 2015, may absorb them as drivers and maintenance staff of the bus stations.
The website of the BRT project, which is one of the priorities of the Aquino administration for private-public partnership, said jeepney services are still needed because “Although the BRT line will be located along the most popular route in Cebu it will not serve everyone’s journey needs.”
Jeepneys would still be needed for interconnecting transport services to bring people to and from the BRT line.
One of the Frequently Asked Questions in the site is “What will be the impact on the jeepney operators?”
“Transport in the city will be best improved by BRT and jeepney services working together. There will be a large need for jeepney services which inter-relate with the BRT line, either linking it to residential areas or taking people away from the line to other commercial and industrial areas of Cebu. When the BRT system is integrated into a modified jeepney network, the overall demand for public transport in the city will increase sustaining jobs in transport”.
Colin Brader, lead consultant of BRT feasibility study team, told a briefing of the Movement for a Liveable Cebu this week that some jeepney routes will be modified and others won’t be affected.
“Every effort is being made to understand the skills within the jeepney industry and the ability of those skills to be used in BRT operation.”
“The vast majority of BRT systems operating around the world are being operated by former jeepney style bus drivers and operators,” Brader said.
As proposed, the BRT phase 1 of the BRT will have a fleet of 190 specially designed buses which will employ 411 drivers.
Phase 1 will cover 16 kilomenters from Bulacao to Talamban, passing through main thoroughfares like Fuente Osmeña.
Councilor Nida Cabrera stressed the need to educate drivers in a massive information drive.
Because of the designated pick-up and drop-off points of the BRT, Cabrera said people will have to walk in some areas.
“We should start and practice walking now,” she said adding that people must adopt to the changes of the times.
Cabrera said that sidewalks must be walkable.
Cabarrubias said with the BRT, travel time is shortened and people will arrive on time in their destinations.
The BRT in Cebu City will be the first in the Philippines although it exists in other countries like Indonesia, Brazil and parts of Europe and the United States.
Strategically located bus stations built on elevated platforms will be built the stretch of the BRT route that will run through Osmeña Boulevard.
Meanwhile, Cabarrubias said that he will propose through an ordinance a moratorium on building constructions in sites for proposed BRT bus stations.
“Bus stations should conform to the building laws. We have to follow the Building Code,” said Cabarrubias. /Correspondent Tweeny Malinao