Bus system eyed to replace jeepneys in Davao City

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 April) – Davao City may embark on a High Priority Bus System (HPBS) that will address its need for a mass transport system amid a growing population.

Citing the initial findings of a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on a transport system, Engr. Froilan Rigor, planning officer 4 at the City Planning Development Office, told reporters on Monday that experts are proposing a bus system to replace public utility jeepneys in some parts of the city.

Started sometime in the third quarter of 2016, Rigor said the study is expected to be completed by June 2017.

If the plan pushes through, Rigor, a member from government of the ADB’s pool of experts, explained that there will be special lanes for the HPBS.

At the rate the city growing, he said it’s high time that it went for an efficient mass transport system that could take a large number of passengers compared to private vehicles and PUJs.

He said the ADB is also studying how to cushion the adverse social impact once this project is implemented, most especially on the drivers and PUJ operators who risk losing their livelihood.

Among the recommendations, he said, is to absorb them as workers of the new bus units, give them livelihood assistance through acquiring their units, or organize them into cooperatives and then make them run the bus system.

Another possibility is to bring the PUJs to underserved areas like in Marilog District, although plans will be finalized upon the completion of the ADB study, he added.

Rigor said they expect the study would be another contentious topics at the Davao City Council because this is “something revolutionary” that must convince the local lawmakers it can be implemented here for the greater good.

If push comes to shove, he said, this project maybe implemented in the latter part of 2018 or early 2019.

He said the new bus system will be introduced in phases.

He said if the city council approves it, they plan to make the HPBS “flexible” with the possible construction of the proposed monorail project by China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co.

On January 23, Jiang Zhiping, the Chinese company’s planning and management deputy director said his group was keen on pursuing the project to ease traffic at the downtown area.

“The monorail is almost the cheapest urban transit in cities. For China, monorail is very popular now and secondly, it does not occupy roads. The monorail is very light and the structure is very simple,” he said at that time.

This monorail project will take about three years to complete – one year for engineering and planning and two years for the construction.

“The Chinese are very interested but these are all preliminary and there is no firm commitment that they will invest. It’s the barometer – commitment if the firm wants to invest, unless we see a firm commitment signed… Nothing on the ground yet. As of today, more serious is the bus,” Rigor  said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)