Davao City working with ADB for launch of bus system by 2019

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Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio holds a press conference after delivering her State of the City Address on Sept. 12, 2017. -- CARMENCITA A. CARILLO

By Carmencita A. Carillo,

DAVAO CITY — The city government is working with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in planning the High Priority Bus System (HPBS), which it hopes to launch along major thoroughfares by 2019.

“We are working with the Asian Development Bank in creating a workable plan as we shift from the outdated and expensive public utility jeepneys (PUJ) to a more convenient, cleaner and faster mode of transportation,” Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in a news conference after her first State of the City Address on Tuesday.

The mayor issued an executive order creating the Transportation and Traffic Planning Committee that is working with the ADB on the HPBS as well as drafting a comprehensive transportation plan.

Ms. Carpio said the target is for all local government infrastructure projects to be completed by 2019, the year her term ends.

The ADB is set to present the HPBS to the city by November, after which the city will prepare the infrastructure requirements for the system within 2018 and the initial implementation by 2019.

The ADB started its study on the HPBS in mid-2016. The initial findings, which were submitted to the city government in April, showed the HPBS to be a more viable option compared to the previously proposed Bus Rapid Transit. The HPBS plan involves the deployment of 100-seat capacity buses that will ply the major roads, while the PUJs will be relegated to inner or feeder routes.

“There are already routes that have workable plans,” Ms. Duterte-Carpio said, but did not give details.

Part of the plan, she added, is to provide alternative livelihood and investment options for PUJ drivers who will be affected.

“We do not want our jeepney drivers to be poor and sickly, we want the drivers to become entrepreneurs and invest in the HPBS project where they can become partners to a modernized transport system for the city,” she said.

The mayor said she expects resistance to the project, especially from the PUJ drivers, but said, “The protest and opposition are natural, but we are prepared.”

Ms. Carpio also said that she is not in favor of the entry of other alternative modes of transport, such as ride-hailing services, as this would mean more vehicles in the streets. Only Grab currently operates taxi services in the city.

Instead, she has encouraged the taxi operators association to invest in a single DavaoTaxi app and an official taxi complaint site.