DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 Dec) – Seven modern electric and fully airconditioned Business for Environmentally Sustainable Transformation (BEST) buses have started plying around the streets of downtown Davao City, offering free rides to local passengers for the first six months.
During her live interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), Mayor Sara Duterte said that the e-buses have started servicing local passengers since last Monday after she and Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) president and chief operating officer Rodger S. Velasco signed a memorandum of agreement for the BEST Bus Project.
Each e-bus has a seating capacity of 30, but passenger load has been reduced by 50 percent at this time to maintain distancing, according to Duterte.
The e-buses, an initiative of Aboitiz Power Company and Global Electric Transport (GET) Philippines, are servicing two routes: Downtown Ikot 1 (North Loop) from C. Bangoy St., to Rizal St., Bolton St., Magallanes St., C.M. Recto, Acacia, Bajada, SM Lanang, Azuela Cove, R. Castillo, Carpenter, Sta. Ana Ave., and back to C. Bangoy St., and Downtown Ikot 2 (South Loop) from C. Bangoy St., to Palma Gil St., Camus, Quirino, Bankerohan, Sandawa, Quimpo Blvd., Ecoland Drive, Times Beach, Ecowest, Quimpo, Sandawa, Bankerohan, Magallanes, Boulevard, R. Magsaysay and back to C. Bangoy.
The mayor said bus stops have already been identified along these routes.
The local government will have another discussion with company executives towards the end of the six-month period as the city wants them to continue the services.
“This is a big help because every penny counts in this time of pandemic. If there are free rides, let’s grab the opportunity offered by the private sector, so we can save money since we don’t need to pay for the fare,” she said.
Under the agreement with the company, Duterte said the local government committed to secure the buses, including their routes.
To avail of the free bus rides, Dabawenyos must download the GET-Pass application from the Google Play or Apple App stores, and to register and secure the BEST Pass QR code from within the app. This will be used for scanning upon boarding the e-buses.
The mayor did not discuss if BEST buses are a prelude to the city government’s implementation of the High Priority Bus System (HPBS), which the city wants to get implemented to address traffic congestion.
Last September, Duterte said the interim phase of the HPBS may start anytime soon after revealing that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade committed to have the implementation of this project ready at an earlier date beginning November 2021 from the original schedule of February 2022.
Duterte said the local government would pursue the interim phase even as the “real” HPBS has yet to be implemented. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)