Senator Pia Cayetano has renewed her call for the government to promote alternative means of mobility while at the same time pursuing an efficient mass transport system, while the country is grappling with a COVID-19 pandemic.
Cayetano, who chairs the Senate committee on sustainable development goals (SDGs), innovation and futures thinking, said that aside from promoting walking and biking, the government needs to prioritize long distance traveling and thus, should also prioritize the improvement of river ferries, integrated railways and bus rapid transit systems.
“Aside from promoting bikes, we will really need to prioritize (long-distance travels), because naka-tie up talaga itong lahat. Inasmuch as I am a biker by practice, we also need to complement this (advocacy) with other sustainable modes of mass transportation,” Cayetano said during a recent Senate hearing.
“These include the bus rapid transit (BRT), integration of our railway systems, and our use of water vehicles on major waterways like Pasig (river) and Laguna (lake). Hindi pa natin nama-maximize ‘yun (We haven’t maximized that yet),” Cayetano pointed out.
During the hearing held last Tuesday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) revealed that among its projects on sustainable transport include low-carbon modern urban transport systems, service contracting for public buses along EDSA, the EDSA Busway and Greenway projects, the establishment of bike lanes, bike sharing in local communities, and the Cebu BRT project.
In response, Cayetano urged DOTr and other similar agencies to come up with a comprehensive plan and provide a timeframe for all transport-related programs.
She urged DOTr to also include their respective budget proposals, and to ensure that such initiatives will be in line with the SDGs and “AmBisyon Natin 2040.”
Cayetano also prodded the government to disclose its plans for the PNR or Philippine National Railways, and the complete plans for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT).
“At this point in time, we are way past the examples… We really need (the projects) to be rolled out. And we need the support of DOF (Department of Finance) and NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority),” she said.
“I need them all to be on board… When I sponsor this measure, I (should) know what is already happening and what still needs to be pushed,” the senator added.
Cayetano, likewise, stressed the need to have better collaboration among agencies in government to make sure all factors related to sustainable transportation, including health, environment and energy aspects, are taken into account.
“We need to tie this in to the recommendations of other experts para makita talaga natin… what is the ill effect of being stranded in traffic for so many hours… on mental and physical health… on pollution caused by our usual urban transportation. Those are all factors that we’d like to put numbers to,” she pointed out.