FREE BUS RIDES START

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram November 12,2018 - 10:29 PM

This city-owned coaster ferries passengers to I.T. Park from Barangay Mabolo and vice-versa with a maximum of 30 passengers. photos/ Cebu City Call Center Program

City deploys four Kaohsiung buses, one coaster to ferry BPO workers

Faith (not her real name) now feels secure in going home at night.

This was due to the free bus rides offered by the city government to business process outsourcing (BPO) employees like her.

The 21-year-old video editor usually leaves her office inside Cebu I.T. Park in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City past 10 p.m. even if her shift ended at 8 p.m. to avoid the evening rush hour.

But she admitted that she would feel jittery if it was almost 11 p.m. and start getting wary of the dark alleys.

But with the city buses, Faith said she was assured that she would safely get to Colon Street in downtown Cebu City where she would catch a public utility jeepney that would take her home in Barangay Poblacion Pardo, about 11 km from Cebu I.T. Park.

“And it’s for free. I’m also happy that I can save P10-worth of jeepney fare from (Cebu) I.T. Park to Metro Colon. It takes two jeepney rides to go to my house,” she said.

The city government has deployed five buses that have started ferrying passengers to and from Cebu I.T. Park for free.

This was in fulfillment to the promise made by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to provide free bus rides for BPO workers especially in Cebu I.T. Park, to ensure their safety following the killing of Loraine Temple.

Temple, a call center agent in Lapu-Lapu City, was shot dead by robbers in Pope John Paul II Avenue in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City on Oct. 3.

When asked by a netizen through his official Facebook page if the free bus rides were limited for call center agents, the mayor replied that it was “open for all.”

The move of the city government did not only make the BPO industry happy but would also attract and invite more potential investors.

“It’s a welcome development, and I think this would be safer for our workers. The city government has always been supportive of the BPO industry, and we’re happy that this is happening,” said Wilfredo Saa Jr., managing director of Cebu IT-BPM (information technology and business process management) Organization (CIB.O)

Saa said they were expecting the free bus rides to translate into more opportunities for the BPO sector in Cebu.

There are 128 members, ranging from private firms, academic institutions to support groups, who belong to CIB.O.

Saa said there are over 160,000 BPO employees in Cebu.

The city’s five buses have three routes.

Four Kaohsiung buses, each with a seating capacity of 50, will traverse from Cebu I.T. Park to Metro Colon in downtown Cebu City.

The 30-seater coaster bus will ply the intersection of M.J. Cuenco and Juan Luna Avenues in Barangay Mabolo from Cebu I.T. Park.

Two of the Kaohsiung buses will ply the uptown areas. Their designated stops are J.Y. Square, Capitol building, Fuente Osmeña Circle, Harrison Park and Abellana National School.

The two other Kaohsiung buses will cover the downtown area. Their stops include Barangay Hipodromo, T. Padilla Street, F. Cabahug Street, near Mabolo Church, S. Osmeña Road,and Osmeña Boulevard.

The schedule for the four Kaohsiung buses is from midnight to 6 a.m., with a 20 to 30-minute interval in between each bus.

The schedule for the coaster bus is from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., said Nanette Garong, director of the Call Center Program.

“It’s a city-owned coaster. We placed one there since this is one of the areas the BPO firms and workers identified as a high-risk area (or areas prone to crimes),” Garong said.

The coaster’s dry run started on Monday and was monitored by Garong’s office.

“After the dry-run, we will see what needs to be improved in its operations,” said Garong.

The dry of the four Kaohsiung buses started on Sunday night and was overseen by the Department of General Services (DGS)
But so far, so good although the buses were not full, said Ronald Malacora, DGS chief.

He said there were only about 10 passengers in each bus since most BPO workers were on their day-off on Sundays.

“However, we’re expecting the volume of passengers to increase starting this Monday, and maybe this Friday,” Malacora said.
Malacora said they hired five more drivers for the program.

“The budget for its (buses) operations will be shouldered by the city government,” he added.

The CIB.O welcomed the city government’s efforts on providing convenience and security for workers in their industry.

“Safety is one of the major reasons why investors choose Cebu. Hopefully, this will not only mean improvement in terms of safety but also in attractiveness,” said Saa.

“As our industry continues to grow, we have to take care of it more than ever especially that it has contributed a lot to the local economy, not only in employment but also business opportunities,” he added.

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