Better mass transport options


Too bad I was unable to attend the recent road show staged by the regional office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB-7) featuring the electric passenger jeepneys that will soon be rolled out to Cebu City’s streets months from now.

Yet the photos and whatever information I read about the show promises that the e-jeepneys can be a feasible and convenient mass transport choice for the city’s commuters especially those working in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

As had been previously reported, Cebu City Hall wanted the first batch of e-jeepneys to service the BPO workers heading to Lahug, long established as the premier IT hub in the Queen City of the South.

What is fun about it is that these e-jeepneys will also service those heading to Lahug and other destinations covered by the routes prescribed by the LTFRB-7 as requested by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

Among those destinations are Ayala Center and Robinson’s Cybergate Mall, so shoppers and mall goers can ride these jeepneys and head on to these places as well as other popular nightspots and hangouts located in the IT Business Park in Lahug which are aplenty last time I checked.

Any doubts as to whether some operator will hesitate to acquire these e-jeepneys are laid to rest as the Cebu Integrated Transport Cooperative (Citrasco) confirmed that its members will acquire these e-jeepneys and roll them out before an expectant riding public as soon as they are available.

Seeing the profitability in servicing these routes, it doesn’t take much to convince Citrasco’s member operators to acquire these e-jeepneys which are far more comfortable, less polluting and conform to the standards set by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

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Which is as it should be since the bottom line remains public interest.

It’s also smart of Mayor Osmeña to consider asking the LTFRB to have these e-jeepneys service the BPO sector since most of the employees won’t have a problem paying the projected P15 fare rate to be charged by the operators.

In fact, if I can hazard a guess, the places covered by these routes are mostly frequented by people who shop and dine in commercial hangouts and work at slightly better-paying jobs.

Like the MyBus units being operated by a consortium in partnership with SM Malls, these e-jeepneys will use an automated fare system which means the passengers will use cards instead of cash to pay for fare.

This does away with the nosy and usually obnoxious dispatchers who won’t hesitate to fill the jeepney to beyond its maximum capacity of passengers to generate extra income and insult those who are too fat and take up too much space inside the vehicle.

I can only hope that the drivers of these jeepneys, who are supposed to be paid better, will resist the temptation to load and unload passengers at the most inopportune time and place which would only aggravate the already horrid traffic congestion in the city.
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Speaking of routes, more details on the proposed monorail project for Cebu surfaced last week, and I must admit to being a bit disappointed that the monorail will operate above ground, which means it will require a railway structure similar to the Light Railway Transit (LRT) or Metro Railway Transit (MRT) system in Manila.

As if we need to build more structures that reach and crowd out the view of the city skyline along with other structures like billboards, towering buildings and flyovers. But some may argue that trains are a necessity as seen in First World countries like the US, Japan and in Europe.

Then again, the technical design had yet to be fully worked out so let’s just see what the final product will look like.

That said, the project proponent, PhilTram Transportation Consortium Inc., needs to operate a financially viable route to cover the project costs which means its monorail will have to pass through schools, malls and commercial establishments in Cebu City and Mandaue City.

If anything, the monorail project will also include Consolacion town which means it can help transport more commuters heading to and from Metro Cebu.

For me, trains or monorails are better suited to servicing and connecting towns and cities to each other rather than operating within the heart of the metropolis which is crowded enough as it is with jeepneys, private vehicles and buses each competing for precious limited road space.