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Work on Cebu BRT phase 1 finally starts after 8-year delay

Updated: Feb 28

Civil works for phase 1 of the Cebu BRT Project finally started as signified by the groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 27, 2023, more than eight years after the World Bank (WB) approved the loan for the project and roughly four months before the loan's revised closing date.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr), however, has bared plans to request the WB for another extension of the loan's closing date, which had been revised to June 30, 2023 from the original closing date of June 30, 2021.

The WB approved a US$116 million loan for the Cebu BRT on Sept. 26, 2014. The project cost was estimated at $228.5 million, which was to be funded by the $116 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, $25 million from the Clean Technology Fund, and $87.5 million from the Philippine government.

Phase 1 of the project, with a contract price of P919,658,299.97, was awarded to Hunan Road and Bridge Construction Group Co. Ltd. from China, the WB announced in December 2022. The contract has a duration of one year.

Phase 1 includes the following components:

  • 2.38 kilometer trunk line service from the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) to the Capitol building;

  • 1.15 kilometer pedestrian improvement from N. Bacalso cor. Osmeña Blvd. to Plaza Independencia; and

  • 4 bus stations (Capitol, Fuente, CNU and CSBT)

The entire project, which has an approved cost of P16.307 billion, is envisioned to serve more than 60,000 passengers daily, barely a fifth of the original target.

It will connect Talisay City in the south to Talamban, Cebu City in the north through a total of 17 trunk line service stations, a trunk terminal, and a depot as well as a feeder line system composed of 2 feeder terminals and 76 bus stops.

The trunk line service will traverse 13.18 kilometers from the South Road Properties to the Cebu IT Park. The feeder line system will be composed of the 8.2-kilometer line from Talisay City to the SRP, 8.7-kilometer line from Mambaling to Talisay via N. Bacalso Ave., and a 5.2-kilometer line from Cebu IT Park to Talamban.

The new targets are fourth quarter of 2023 for partial operations and second quarter of 2025 for full operations.

Original components and target

The BRT project had an original project cost of P10. 6 billion when it was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board in 2014. The cost increased to P16.9 billion in 2017 due to road right-of-way (RROW) acquisition costs.

The original project proposed by the then Department of Transportation and Communication, now DoTr, involved a 16-kilometer route from Bulacao in the south to Talamban in the north.

It was envisioned to have a total of 33 stations and 176 bi-articulated buses, with the buses arriving every two to five minutes. Dedicated bus lanes were to be constructed from Bulacao to Ayala Center Cebu, while a high bus priority system was planned for the route from Ayala to Talamban.

The project was originally targeted to be operational by 2019 and was expected to serve about 330,000 passengers daily.

Implementation of the project was shelved as it was not identified as a priority project of the Rodrigo R. Duterte administration. The DoTr secretary and presidential assistant for the Visayas then were pushing for a light rail transit or monorail system in Cebu because the roads are "too narrow for a BRT."

The project was later included as a component of the proposed Metro Cebu Integrated and Intermodal Transport System (MCIITS). Of the projects listed under the proposed intermodal transport system, however, only the BRT had been approved and funded. (MVI/Ventures Cebu)

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