Barrita: ‘Free’ LRT in Metro Cebu?

Eddie O. Barrita

MOST local government leaders in Metro Cebu want a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system to solve the worsening traffic problem. But what holds them back is the staggering cost of building it.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña looks at the LRT with disfavor, saying it’s too expensive for the public, specifically the marginalized sector.

He said the people couldn’t afford the LRT. Well, they have a choice. They can go to his Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

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Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, who did his homework on the LRT, once cited the cost of building one of at least $30 million per kilometer.

But Osmena said he will support anything that would improve the traffic system in Cebu. “If we don’t pay anything, why not?” he said.

He said he did not oppose the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressways because no money from the city government’s coffers would be used to build it.

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But here comes Tranzen Group Inc. (TGI), which offered to build Line 1 of the Cebu LRT at no cost to the local governments of Metro Cebu.

Eldon C. Cruz, TGI managing director, said Line 1 will traverse the Cebu Central Transport Axis from Talisay City, passing through the cities of Cebu and Mandaue and end in Consolacion with an estimated length of 21 kilometers.

TGI used the magic words “at no cost to the local governments of Metro Cebu.” It seems we’re going to have an LRT after all.

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A TGI PR said Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, Osmeña, Talisay City Mayor Eduardo Gullas, Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing and Consolacion Mayor Teresa Alegado supported the LRT project, which will complement Cebu City’s BRT system.

TGI cited a Japanese study that ridership along Line 1 is estimated to reach three million person trips per day by 2050.

The final question is, can they afford the ride?