Monday, 1 June 2009

New Metro Manila rapid bus system to cost P55B

Darwin G. Amojelar
Manila Times

To solve the Philippines’ traffic woes that apparently are best dramatized in Metro Manila and the outskirts of the country’s principal region, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) plans to construct a multibillion-peso bus rapid transit (BRT) system in the region similar to that in Bogota, Colombia.

Documents obtained by The Manila Times from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showed that the BRT system—a 426-kilometer alternative rapid transit mode—will cost about P55 billion.

The pre-feasibility study on the system also showed that this alternative transit mode, unlike the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) systems that use train coaches, will use busways instead of rail tracks. The LRT 1 and LRT 2 and MRT 3 systems—all operating in Metro Manila—are seen to ease commuter traffic especially during peak hours.

Today and coinciding with the reopening of schools, the government will have begun operating the MRT 3 system on a 24-hour run.

“A BRT is a surface metro system that can be delivered at a fraction of the cost of rail. The system offers segregated median busways with median stations, pre-boarding fare collection and fare verification, free transfers between corridors, competitively-bid concessions, high-frequency service and low-station dwell times, clean bus technologies and modal integration,” the NEDA documents said.

The Transportation department is planning to have two pilot routes—the 21-km C-5 (South Luzon Expressway-Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City) route and the 24-km Edsa-Binangonan (Rizal) route—which will cost a total of over P6 billion.

The C-5 BRT will have 16 stations while the Edsa-Binangonan BRT, 18 stations.

The estimated cost per kilometer in the construction of the Edsa-Binangonan pilot corridor is P139.07 million and of the C-5, P129.33 million.

The two pilot routes were chosen from 11 potential BRT corridors.

NEDA cited the positive impacts of the BRT system in Bogota, including high level of service at low cost, less boarding time, equal-opportunity access, safety, reduction in some pollutants, efficiency and customer satisfaction, all achieved at a fare of $0.40 and not requiring any subsidies.

The BRT system in Bogotá can handle 40,000 passengers per hour.

NEDA said that pedestrian spaces and bike paths will complement the proposed BRT system in the Philippines.

In Asia alone, 15 BRT systems are in operation and 21 systems are in the planning stages or undergoing construction.

Currently, the Philippines has three mass rail systems—LRT 1, LRT 2 and MRT 3.

LRT North Extension is expected to be completed next year and MRT 3 construction is set to start, also next year. The government is also proposing to extend LRT 1 to Cavite province, south of Manila.

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