5 new routes proposed for Davao’s regular bus system

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 May) – The City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) has proposed five new routes for the regular bus service, which might be implemented this year to complement the insufficient public transport services offered by the jeepney, most especially during peak hours.

CPDO head Ivan Cortez said in an interview on Tuesday that the five new proposed routes, servicing the underserved areas in the city or where jeepneys are no longer sufficient due to the growing number of passengers, were submitted to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) last week for review and approval.

The proposed first route will start from Catalunan Grande to Ma-a via Diversion Road; second route, from Mintal, to Bangkal drop-off point, to SM City drop-off point in Ecoland, to San Pedro St. drop-off point, to Bankerohan, to Matina, and then back to Mintal; third route, from Cabantian, to Buhangin, and to Agdao via Cabaguio; fourth route, from Ma-a to Buhangin via Diversion Road; and fifth route, from Toril to Ulas drop-off point, to Matina crossing drop-off point, to Matina Aplaya, to SM City Ecoland, to Matina Crossing, and then back to Toril.

As the demand grows, Cortez said buses are expected to arrive every 15 minutes.

He said that the LTFRB would still have to evaluate the proposed routes, which are based on the public transport study conducted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The CPDO also provided the LTFRB with the transport study.

Cortez added that the new routes for the regular bus service system are not intended to compete with jeepney drivers plying the existing routes, explaining that they want to augment the city’s insufficient public transport services to offer more comfort to passengers during peak hours and avoid getting stranded during rain.

Congestion in the regular jeepney routes, he said, could be prevented with additional bus units.

Cortez said several passengers would find it difficult to get a ride while some of them would have to wait for an hour only to squeeze themselves inside PUJs during peak hours, suggesting that the current public transport service is “lacking and there’s a need to add additional public transport in the area.”

Three bus companies have so far signified the interest to service the new routes, Cortez said.

“We do not want to disenfranchise or compete with jeepney drivers. We looked for new routes that are underserved or public transport services are insufficient,” he said.

The airconditioned buses will be deployed hopefully this year ahead of the full implementation of the High Priority Bus System (HPBS) by 2021 to improve the public transport services here, Cortez said.

He said the bus companies would decide how many fleets they would deploy and they are also expected to submit proposals to LTFRB.

Cortez said the ultimate aim in modernizing the transport system is to get the private car owners to utilize the system, which prepared them for the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded HPBS where modern buses would be deployed to the streets.

The routes of the buses would be aligned to the 29 routes as suggested for the HPBS implementation, he said.

The ADB has set aside a budget of $70 million or P3.644 billion for the HPBS, also called as the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project, to improve public transport infrastructures and services in the city.

During 51st ADB Annual Meeting and Economic Briefing on Friday at the SMX Convention on March 9, Kelly Bird, country director of ADB Philippines, said that they are completing the design of this new bus system and that they are eyeing to complete this year for submission to the board of directors of the National Economic Development Authority for approval this year.

“There’s a little bit of work to do because when you are modernizing public transport system, it’s a lot of details, a lot of issues to think about. We’ve gone through that now, so we are looking at what those bus terminals can look like,” he said.

Bird added that they are also making a study of the project’s impact on the community.

“We still got this technical work to complete. We are certainly focused on it and we are aware of the government’s timeline, we hope we will get that to the NEDA board this year,” he added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)