General Santos City has been making inroads into adopting electronic or hybrid vehicles for use as public transport. Their latest and most impressive attempt lies with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and its HERT, or Hybrid Electric Road Train. Already introduced to the country as far back as two years ago, it caught a not so small amount of attention but ultimately never proved itself on the streets of Metro Manila. But perhaps here in GenSan, the HERT might find a permanent home to operate in. It just needs to be put to local a road test first.

According to Minda News, the Hybrid Electric Road Train is getting ready to make its first trial run on the streets of GenSan starting this week, after arriving last month from Cebu City where it was put through an earlier test period that took six months. The City Council’s Transportation Committee Chairman, Councilor Dominador Lagare Jr., confirmed the timetable this Tuesday, November 7, for HERT’s trial run before the week is out. In an interview with Brigada TV, Councilor Lagare noted that all preparations for the test are done, and only a final go-ahead from the DOST higher-ups in Manila is needed to start.

HERT is a special gas-and-electric-powered articulated vehicle, with five rigid bus sections joined together by a covered pivoting joint, similar to modern enclosed passenger trains (hence the “road train” moniker). With maximum comfort in mind, the HERT can accommodate up to 240 passengers, but according to Lagare it can potentially carry up to 1,800 people for one single trip down its assigned trial path in GenSan. It has been allotted a route connecting Barangay Tinagacan and Barangay Tambler. The terminal points of the route are the Tinagacan Elementary School and the GenSan Fish Port Complex.

When the trial run starts, HERT will start each day by departing from the TES at 4AM, travelling back and forth from there and the Fish Port. Its regular passengers are projected to be school teachers, and workers for the port facilities and its nearby canning factories. During the trial run the passengers are pre-selected and will ride the road train free of charge for the whole duration of the test.

While the DOST has scheduled the GenSan trial for HERT to end on December 31, they have been working on getting additional budget to extend the period for a full six months like in Cebu. It is hoped that the Hybrid Electric Road Train could help to ease traffic congestion in the city if officially implemented.

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