BRT system pushed as better alternative to railway projectBy Miguel R. Camus
Philippine Daily Inquirer
An elevated rapid bus system at one-sixth the cost of the P60 billion LRT Line 1 extension to Cavite province.
This is what all-Filipino consortium Philtrak Inc. is proposing as an alternative to the 11.7-kilometer railway system that seeks to provide fast access between Metro Manila and the southern provinces of Luzon.
Francis Yuseco Jr., Philtrak chair and CEO, said tapping his group’s patented bus rapid transit (BRT) line would remove the need for costly subsidies shouldered by the government, which he said would be inevitable with the LRT Line 1.
“They (the government) are going to bid out the LRT project at P60 billion. The thing is, what is the fair rate they intend to charge the passenger without resorting to subsidies?” Yuseco said in a phone interview on Saturday. “The idea with the BRT is to save the government billions of pesos a year in subsidies.”
He said a project like LRT Line 1, given its massive cost, would end up charging P200 per passenger for a one-way trip to be viable.
By contrast, Philtrak’s BRT system, which would have a capacity of 616,000 passengers per day, would require a total investment of P10 billion. Fares, which will be “at par” with regular buses (without air-conditioning), will be P10 for the first 5 km and P1.85 for every additional kilometer for a total distance fare of P19.25.
As a result, Yuseco said his alternative BRT system could generate savings of P50 billion plus P5 billion yearly for taxpayers.
Those figures could not be immediately verified with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the implementing agency for the planned railway system.
Yuseco said Philtrak’s proposal, which has been forwarded to the Office of the President, DOTC, National Economic and Development Authority and Department of Public Works and Highways, will likely be structured as an unsolicited public-private partnership project (PPP).
The government is currently evaluating the bidders for the LRT Line 1 PPP, which calls for the extension and operation and maintenance of the railway system for 35 years, information on the PPP Center’s website showed.
The project aims to increase the average passenger capacity by 50 percent to 820,000 by 2015, the website showed.
Prospective bidders include DMCI Holdings Inc. in partnership with Japan’s Marubeni Corp.; Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.; Malaysia’s MTD Group and South Korea-based Samsung; and San Miguel Corp.
The DOTC said the submission of the bids for LRT Line 1 was slated for June 17 this year.
Philtrak is composed of 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 domestic traffic evaluation.