Davao City eyes test drive for bus system

DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said that they are eyeing for a test drive for the Highly Prioritized Bus System (HPBS) within this year or early next year.

"We cannot afford the whole routes, but for people to see what will happen with the project and also to test the project we will try to run HPBS in one route," she said in an interview last Monday afternoon, March 12.

She added they are still in talks with how many buses will be allowed to run.

As to who will finance the bus, she said that the City Government will not fund it, and she had suggested that it will be funded by a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC).

Duterte-Carpio in a separate interview Tuesday after the Datu Bago awards mentioned that she is losing patience with the HPBS project now under Asian Development Bank (ABD) for design stage as it is taking too long.

"It is taking too long and I already said that it will happen, and when I said that I put my honor at stake, if this project will not happen, it would cost me my honor, and that is why I told them to vigorously pursue the project," she said.

She added that the delaying factor is not the ADB, but the National Government agencies, but they are doing their best to patch things up.

She said that the time table is beyond 2019, and she already told the agencies concerned that if it cannot be done by 2019, at least show them what will happen beyond 2019.

Davao City Assistant City Administrator lawyer Tristan Dwight Domingo, in a media interview last Monday said the City Government of Davao is now partnering with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to show Dabawenyos a glimpse of the HPBS by having similar looking buses ply along the major roads in the city before the month of June.

"Hopefully it will be ply in our major routes, routes which have shortage for transport due to increasing population," Domingo said.

He said they will check which routes will be assigned with buses.

As to possible objections on the HPBS project, Domingo assured that the city, DOTr, and ADB is very meticulous in trying to come up with fair interventions and social development packages for those who will be displaced by the HPBS project.

He said that in the transportation sector, the opinions of driver and operators were always heard but seldom the comfort of passengers.

"These are the things that we need to consider," he added.

He said they have supporting the data that passengers seek change in the way they travel each day.

Domingo said ADB is coming up with the computation and all other technical aspects of HPBS in the city. These will include where the money will be coursed, be it on national agencies for infrastructure construction and the like.

"All the nitty gritty things now will be put into writing. Everybody, national and city offices will be included and will be crucial for the documentation and the project design," he said.

Domingo said that the budget is among the things that the ADB will come up based on their studies.

He added that ADB will determine the components that may not need budget because they can utilize the existing government project for the purpose.

"For example we have drivers and operations which will be affected and we have existing programs in Technical Education Skills and Development Agency (Tesda) or Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)…the programs existing nationwide will be looked into as it may help in the computations for the loan," he said.