Group bent on initiating cheaper mass transit system

By: Miguel R. Camus, April 18th, 2013 03:14 AM

A consortium has revived a proposal to build a series of rapid bus transit systems in Metro Manila—a model it hopes will be replicated in other parts of the Philippines.

The unsolicited proposal is described to be a cheaper alternative to “costly” and money-losing railway projects. It calls for a 5.7-kilometer “pilot” project in Bay City, which includes the Mall of Asia complex, and will involve at least 10 buses serving up to 200 passengers a day, said Francis Yuseco, chairman and chief executive officer of Philtrak Inc.

The investment cost for the Bay City rapid bus system may range from P700 million to P800 million, Yuseco told reporters.

“Other countries are already doing this. We don’t need to bother taxpayers, and government can use the savings for others means,” Yuseco said, describing Philtrak’s patented technology for the mass transport system.

“We can have five rapid bus projects in place by 2014,” he said, noting that the project can be easily funded given the excess amount of liquidity in the financial system.

The proposed projects include elevated bus lines from Baclaran to Cavite and Antipolo to Edsa, via Ortigas Avenue. Three other at-grade systems, or those at street level, include Commonwealth Avenue and Cebu City, as well as Bay City.

“Once and for all, we can forever free our country from the perpetual and endless subsidies … tied to the exorbitantly expensive and impractical LRTS [Light Rail Transit System],” Yuseco said in an April 10 letter addressed to Transport Secretary Joseph Abaya and Soio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

He added that more major cities in the United States, China, Latin America, Australia, Canada and Europe are turning to rapid bus systems instead of constructing light railways.

Philtrak likewise cited that the Ramos administration already had “protocols” to implement Philtrak’s rapid bus master plan even though the project never materialized.

Yuseco said Philtrak has since submitted additional documents on its plans to implement the system, although it has yet to receive more feedback from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Abaya did not immediately respond when sought for comment Wednesday.

Philtrak, meanwhile, has hired LandExcel Consulting Inc., which specializes in business planning for real estate developers, landowners and banks. It is led by Landco Pacific Corp. co-founder Danilo Antonio.

Yuseco said a feasibility study is expected to be completed and submitted to the transportation department next month.

Philtrak comprises Del Monte Motor Works Corp., an assembler of bus bodies; DLTB Inc., the oldest bus company operating in the country; Micrologics Systems Inc., the country’s sole manufacturer of contactless toll and ticketing system; and Versatech Consultants and Management Corp., an engineering firm with experience in “field transport and traffic analysis.”

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