PHABS not prelude to new bus system

The Peak Hours Augmentation Bus Service (PHABS) is not a dry run to the High Priority Bus System (HPBS) being pushed by the Davao City government.

City officials clarified that the current bus augmentation via the PHABS is only a temporary solution to the dearth of public transport in some areas at peak hours and will not pre-empt the implementation of the HPBS.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in a recent press conference that the HPBS is currently “50-percent ready to be implemented.”

Duterte said that she is happy with the development of the new bus system, which she has been pushing all throughout. However, she said that the city is still looking for a bus company to operate under the HPBS.

The PHABS, which operates on a special permit issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), has elicited fears from the public utility jeepney (PUJ) sector.

The bus augmentation system was the city government’s answer to the public clamor to implement a stop gap solution to the scarcity of PUJs during peak hours in various locations particularly in Toril and Catalunan Grande, as identified by the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO).

City Assistant Administrator Tristan Dwight Domingo said that the pilot testing of the HPBS will be implemented, either middle or towards the end of the year.

Domingo said that once the initial phase of the new bus system will be implemented, the city will spend an estimated P30 to P45 million for the project. He said that the budget will include the financial assistance to jeepney drivers and operators who will be affected by the HPBS. He clarified that the budget does not cover purchase of new bus units to be used in this new system.

“We’ll still come up with the final alleviation program since many will be displaced,” he said.

Domingo said that the HPBS will affect some 6,000 drivers. However, with the new bus system, the city will need more than 10,000 drivers.

However, he said that not all drivers will be absorbed once the new bus system will kick off. All affected drivers will need to undergo upgrading of skills via the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) training program, according to Domingo.

CTTMO head Dionisio Abude said that they have already consulted some PUJ groups and provincial buses last month.