Chamber exec: LRT-subway study worth waiting for

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva August 05,2017 - 10:46 PM

 

A STUDY on the viability of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT)-subway system for Metro Cebu is worth waiting for, a local business leader said yesterday.

Teodoro Locson Jr., Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) vice president for external affairs, said the LRT-subway system is ideal for Metro Cebu due to the excessive number of its vehicles and commuters.

“There were many studies done years ago on mass transport systems for Cebu. BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), LRT, as well as a combination of both, but none on the LRT-subway systems,” he said in a text message to Cebu Daily News.

Locson said he is one of those who want to see Metro Cebu, not Cebu City alone, with a modern, relevant, and efficient mass transport system that can handle the volume of commuters today and be flexible for expansion in the future.

The BRT project in Cebu City, which is due for bidding this year and construction next year, will be put on hold as the government evaluates the LRT system pushed by Michael Dino, presidential assistant in the Visayas.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia recently said the BRT project will be stalled while they discuss other alternatives, one of which is the LRT.

Pernia said the LRT-subway is ideal for Cebu due to its components — underground tracks within the city and elevated tracks toward the towns and cities in the north and south.

The BRT, on the other hand, would only constrict traffic in Cebu City due to the metropolitan’s narrow roads, he said.

The Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) was supposed to deliberate on the request for additional funding for the BRT project.

With the LRT in the picture, Pernia said he would now have to explain that there were alternative solutions meant to address Cebu’s traffic problems.

The country’s economic chief said even those in the ICC-CabCom were inclined to support the proposed LRT-subway system as well.

He said they have yet to receive the feasibility study for the project and that it will undergo the same thorough evaluation the BRT had.

But if they found it economically and financially viable, he pointed out that they will definitely support it.

Secretary Dino, in earlier reports, said a group from China and Singapore will undertake the LRT project, which is projected to cost US $3 billion and take four years to complete.

He expects the group, which he refused to identify, to complete the feasibility study on the project by December this year.

Dino said once the Neda approves the LRT project, the BRT project will have to be scrapped.

The presidential assistant began staunchly advocating for the LRT system for Cebu after transport and engineering expert Rene Santiago said the BRT was unfit for Cebu City due to its narrow roads.

Dino also lobbied for the cancellation of the BRT project, stoking his rift with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

But Gordon Alan Joseph, president of the Cebu Business Club (CBC), said the two transport systems need to be integrated.

“It is good to have an expert and comprehensive study to look at the total transport solution for Mega Cebu,” he said, adding that transport solutions cannot be implemented piece meal.

He said modern transport planning and implementation should always relate to zoning and land use including residential, commercial, industrial, and tourism uses.

Joseph said mass transport systems should serve the needs of these sectors.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), through the Department of Transportation (DOTr), local governments and the Mega Cebu consortium, will initiate a transport study by recognized experts within the third quarter of this year.

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