There are two major developments in mass transport in Metro Cebu that, if properly implemented, can benefit the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.
The first is Cebu City Hall’s decision to contract Uber and Grab into servicing their employees in certain departments in order to save up on vehicle acquisition, fuel and maintenance costs.
It is admittedly quite an unorthodox solution and one in which a local government is willing to work with transport network services that have been complained about by public utility vehicle (PUV) operators threatened by their existence in order to service the growing number of commuters.
The decision also dovetailed with Cebu City Hall’s move to allow the motorcycle-for-hire transport service Angkas to operate in Cebu City despite the company being closed by government transport agencies for failing to secure a business permit.
It remains to be seen how this arrangement would work out, but this early, it seems that the incumbent administration is looking more towards the private sector to contract most standard basic services that constituents expect their city government to perform for them like garbage collection and disposal.
To its credit, the city government’s arrangement with Grab and Uber means more income for part-time and full-time members and, to a certain extent, fewer cars on the roads since City Hall employees are also being encouraged to avail of these transport network services.
It would be mutually beneficial for the city and the companies, an arrangement that would perhaps be questioned by PUV operators. But so long as it would benefit the commuters, public sentiment would perhaps quell whatever opposition there is to this venture.
The second major development is a proposed monorail project that would service Cebu City’s South Road Properties (SRP) all the way north to Mandaue City. It will be pursued by the Philtram Transportation Consortium Inc. in possible partnership with both the national and local governments.
Among the most promising features of the project is that it can complement the ongoing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project and can service both commuters in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.
While both of these transport developments are promising, they should still be subject to public scrutiny. In the case of the Uber and Grab arrangement, maybe state auditors from the Commission on Audit (COA) can review whether it is compliant with existing laws. Of course, government transport regulatory agencies will have their say on the matter.
As far as the monorail project is concerned, it is still in the pre-feasibility study stage, which gives it room for extensive public dialogues with community stakeholders.
Still, commuters in Cebu City and Mandaue City can look at these developments with some optimism and hope that they would work out for them.