Study: Davao not ready for LRT, BRT

Subscribe Now October 03, 2013 at 01:41pm

Development is fast catching up with Davao City's transportation system, but the city is not yet ready for Light Rail Transit (LRT) or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, according to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study.

The study, “Comprehensive Public Transport Reform Strategy for Davao City,” was presented to the city’s businessmen on Monday.

“There is a shared concern about the state of public transport in Davao when it comes to issues on congestion, reliability, safety of operations and governance issues,” said Geoff K. Key, of consultancy firm Halcrow and team leader of the Davao Sustainable Urban Transport Project.

Halcrow specializes in urban planning and economic development and was commissioned for the transport study.

Mr. Key noted that the city has very low investment in public transport infrastructure, with only 1% for transport in the P5.003 million allotted for the City Investment Programs in 2013.

“There is a very tiny proportion spent on transport and no city-led program to invest in public transport,” he said.

Halcrow presented four options for Davao’s Public Transport System: conventional bus service, highly prioritized bus service (HPBS), BRT and LRT.

Mr. Key said that the BRTs are large buses that operate not on existing roads, but on their own track above the roads, just like in Xiamen, China.

The team studied the traffic flow along Bankerohan Bridge in the city and found that, at the busiest time of the day, “almost 8,000 public utility jeepneys pass the area with each one carrying 16 to 18 passengers,” which is considered inefficient and causes traffic congestion.

“Large number of vehicles is difficult to regulate and is often the cause of traffic congestion,” Mr. Key said

The city currently has a total of 15,115 public transport vehicles, majority of which, or 13,985, ply city routes while only 1,130 cover regional routes.

Of the total number of public utility vehicles in the city, 7,278 are jeepneys, 3,602 are taxi cabs and 2,105 are motorized tricycles.

Mr. Key said that a conventional bus service can carry a maximum of 60 passengers and can accommodate up to 7,200 passengers per hour per direction. On the other hand, the HPBS has a maximum passenger load of 90 and can accommodate up to 10,800 passengers per hour per direction.

With up to 7,851 passengers during peak hours at Bankerohan Bridge, the conventional bus service would not have enough capacity, but the HPBS and the BRT can do that, the project leader said.

However, he added that the capacity of the BRT is much more than what the city needs and is more expensive.

“You can forget the BRT or LRT system in the short to medium term considering that it needs at least 25 meters road width, including the system road, compared with the 15 meters available,” Mr. Key said.

The city’s land use plan is also not consistent with high-capacity mass transit systems, he added.

Mr. Key said that his team is instead proposing high- and low- floor large midibuses. However, he noted that a big bus would not fit most streets in the city, so these would require their own tracks, which the city does not have.

Mindanao Business Council President Vicente T. Lao said that if the government can assure residents of the reliability, economy and cleanliness of mass transport, then it can convince people to ride public transport.

“Given the problem of parking and fuel prices, I too would go for public transport if they have these factors,” Mr. Lao added.

He suggested that the government, through the city council, take the lead with the business sector in floating funds for a public transport system, which would be more like the public-private partnership system.

Leonardo R. Avila III, city council transportation committee chairman, said that the study will be officially presented to Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte once completed in November. If Mr. Duterte agrees to its recommendations, the next team will conduct a feasibility study, to be funded again by ADB.

“The city did not spend a single centavo for the study,” Mr. Avila noted.


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