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Europe-made My Bus to operate Nov. 16

By: Aileen Garcia-Yap October 09,2015 - 03:20 AM
SM MYBUS/OCT.08,2015:SM MyBus park infront of Radisson hotel.(CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

SM MYBUS/OCT.08,2015:SM MyBus park infront of Radisson hotel.(CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

THE Cebuano riding public will get to experience  energy-efficient, Europe-made buses that wil be fielded  on Nov. 16.

The route, which includes cities of Talisay, Mandaue and Cebu, and reaches the Mactan Cebu International Airport,  is the same route to be plied by the proposed Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)in 2016.

At least  31 buses  will be on the road 10 days ahead of the opening of  SM Seaside City’s mall , said Marissa Fernan, SM Prime Holdings Inc. vice president for Visayas and Mindanao.

“We were given a franchise for a total of 77 buses which we should have by next year. For this year, we’ll have 31 by November,” she said.

Manufactured by Volvo with Euro-5 engines, the 12-meter-long buses   are the first of its kind in the country.

The units  are manufactured by Volvo, Mercedez Benz and Daewoo.

My Bus  will be operated by Metro Rapid Transit Services, Inc. (MRTSI), a consortium formed by Manila-based Jam Liner, Inc. and Premier Southern Corp., a subsidiary of SM Prime Holdings, Inc.

MRTSI general manager Rico Villaluna said the My Bus units are energy efficient and can accommodate 42  to 90 passengers, including standing passengers.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya, who inspected the buses along with Fernan, said My Bus is a solution to traffic congestion as it carries more passengers and is energy efficient.

“The bus is also  PWD (persons with disabilities)-friendly  with  a ramp that can be lowered for wheelchairs,” he pointed out.

The buses use a pay-to-tap payment system used in developed  countries like Singapore.

Phase 3

“Passengers will be using  E-Plus cards which are also being used for our cinemas, parking and some merchants,” said Sherry Tuvilla, SM Supermalls regional operations manager for Visayas.

The buses that are manufactured by Volvo are assembled in their plant in Subic but the chassis are flown in from Sweden, Volvo vice president for manufacturing Toni Jimenez said.

Villaluna said there are two Volvo buses  Cebu and three buses under loan, which will be replaced with the Volvo units once they are completely assembled.

“One more Volvo bus will be arriving tomorrow which will be used by the APEC delegates here now for the transportation meetings,” he said.

Fernan said the bus route is actually identified as Phase 3 of the Cebu BRT project.

Under-served

“Our routes don’t have existing public transportation with a  high number of commuters daily at 188,000. It’s an under-served market and the 77 buses can only accommodate 65,000 daily,” she said.

Proposed fare rates of  P25, P40 and P75  will be tackled in a public hearing on October 16.

Tuvilla said 18 bus stations are  planned. Six will be set up for the first phase which includes stations at SM Seaside Mall, SM City Cebu, Il Corso, City di Mare, Malacañang sa Sugbo and Compania Maritima.

Contractors have been  tapped to build  two more stations in Mambaling and Talisay.

Traffic signals

For the next phase, special traffic signals will  detect the buses and allow them to pass by turning stoplights to green.

“That is the next thing we want to put in place so that we can have better scheduling of our buses leaving and arriving in different stations,” Villaluna said.

He said a P150 million budget is available for this from the Road Board which is under Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“They want a commitment from the four LGUs (local government units) to maintain the system,” he said.

Every year, the Road Board generates P30 billion from Road Users Tax.

Tuvilla said the Road Board met with the four LGUs since  Cebu  doesn’t have a Metro Cebu  Development Authority.

“We’re working with NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) and Mega Cebu to setup the technical working group for this,” she said.

Fernan said  My Bus won’t  displace  smaller buses.She said the buses  are targeting those who own private vehicles that aggravate traffic..

Study

Tuvilla said a 2010 study showed that 70 percent of  commuters in the area where My Bus will be serving take jeepneys while 30 percent drive their own cars.

“Today 70 percent take their own cars and 30 percent take the jeepneys. That means more private cars are running in these areas and contributing more to the traffic congestion. That is what we hope to address with My Bus,” Tuvilla said.

For My Bus, Fernan said they will be hiring one driver for each bus plus a backup driver including lady drivers.

“The buses will be operating in two shifts or 16 hours which will start as early as 5 a.m.,” Villaluna said.

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