DOTC eyes 'game-changing' Bus Rapid Transit system for Manila

Posted at 07/02/2014 11:44 AM | Updated as of 07/03/2014 9:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is proposing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for Metro Manila.

This after the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) approved the construction of the Philippines' first BRT system in Cebu.

The DOTC is now proposing a Manila BRT for the Quezon Circle-Manila City Hall route. It is also studying other possible BRT routes in Metro Manila.

Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya said the BRT system, which offers a convenient and cost-effective commuting option, is a "game-changer".

"BRT systems around the world have been successful in mobilizing masses of people in dense urban settings, getting them to their destinations reliably through fixed schedules, efficiently through segregated lanes and priority passage, comfortably and safely through modern, well-equipped buses, and affordably through relatively lower capital costs and maintenance expenditures," Abaya said.

The BRT concept started in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, but the system became popular after it was introduced in Bogota, Colombia in 2000.

The Bus Rapid Transit System in Curitiba, Brazil. Photo by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz

"BRTs are game-changers. They are as effective as rail systems in terms of moving people around quickly and efficiently, but are much cheaper to build and are faster to develop. Since they will be granted as concessions, their riders will not be at the mercy of ‘colorum’ vehicles or transport strikes. They will be spared from unnecessary disruptions and unsafe traveling conditions," Abaya said.

There are around 200 BRT systems operating or being built around the world.

A BRT system includes at least five components:

1. Modern buses with special specifications such as bus floors with the same height as station platforms;

2. A "busway" or segregated lane for BRT buses;

3. BRT stations at locations most suitable for commuters;

4. Continuously-operating services to meet passenger demands;

5. Intelligent transport systems or information technologies which ensure the efficient operations of the system. This includes automatic signaling which control traffic lights to ensure that the BRT buses are not impeded during trips.