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Fast-tracking of BBB’s Metro Manila BRT projects needed

MANDALUYONG CITY, Philippines – Late night weekend workers cross the ever busy thoroughfare of Crossing Edsa in this July 2017 file image. The government’s Build Build Build program has laid out plans for two lines of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the metro which Senator Win Gatchalian is calling for a fast-tracked implementation. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to fast-track the transport-related projects included in the Duterte administration’s 75 flagship infrastructure projects amid an investigative report revealing numerous cancellations of the of the Philippine National Railways’ (PNR) scheduled trips.

“If it is no longer feasible to rehabilitate the existing track and trains of the PNR, then we should give priority to the transport projects of the Build, Build, Build (BBB) program, especially the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lines 1 and Line 2, to give PNR passengers an alternative means of transportation,” he said.

The Metro Manila BRT Line 1 project is a fully-segregated 12.3-kilometer highway with 16 stations from the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City and ending at the Manila City Hall. Passengers will be conveyed by 280 buses.

The BRT Line 2, on the other hand, is a 48.6-kilometer track divided into 63 terminals to be traversed by a total of 1,151 buses. According to the BBB website, the system consists of four corridors including the main corridor along EDSA, and corridors along Ayala Avenue to the World Trade Center, Ortigas to Bonifacio Global City and the three Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals.

Both projects will feature an intelligent traffic system as well as an automatic fare collection system.

“I checked the BBB website and it shows the BRT Line 1 at the project development stage, while the BRT Line 2 is already at project procurement. We invite the BBB team and DOTr to relay to us how we, the legislative branch, can help expedite the implementation of the project,” Gatchalian said.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker also called out the PNR for failing to provide prior notification to commuters of trip cancellations.

“Wala naman sigurong may gusto na maghintay sa wala, Not only do the trip cancellations lead to lost man-hours, but the uncertainty of not knowing whether a scheduled trip will push through or not gives added and undue stress on our commuting public,” he said.

An investigative report by published by Rappler revealed that in routes in January and February of this year, the PNR canceled 18 percent of 4004 scheduled trips for available, or a total of 713 train cancellations.