It’s been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. But sometimes, it goes that the more things try to change, the more some would wish for everything to stay the same. This seems to be the driving force for a concerted effort by commuters and transport groups in General Santos City, against last week’s trial run and possible implementation of the DOST Hybrid Electric Road Train (HERT) on their streets, with their primary argument being that the extra-lengthy vehicle will only add to traffic problems.
According to The Manila Times, one of the leading protesters to the HERT, Freedom from Debt Coalition former secretary-general Philip Enong, decried the hybrid multi-segment bus as an impractical white elephant and vanity project that will only compound vehicle congestion on GenSan’s major roadways. “Our main mode of transport is tricycles, and we cannot even decongest traffic,” Enong pointed out. “So how can you add the bus train that occupies a much bigger space?”
Another prominent voice of dissent against the hybrid-electric public transport is Herbert Dinio, speaking for an alliance of local transport groups in GenSan. His opinion on the project stems from concerns of affordability, noting that even the average GenSan public transport tricycle driver could already barely afford the ordinary price of such a vehicle, which is roughly around P150,000 per unit. Dinio is critical of the HERT’s P480,000 price tag, lumping the project with the city’s other planned initiative, the electronic tricycle or E-trike, which is also being railed against by the transport associations. He has also accused the City Council of ignoring GenSan’s transport routes when laying down the trial run route of the HERT.
The Hybrid Electric Road Train, realized years ago by the Department of Science and Technology, was first introduced to GenSan last week by Councilor Dominador Lagare, chairman of the City Council committee on transportation. For its test run, the HERT was tasked to ply a route between Barangay Tinagacan and the City Fish Port Complex at Barangay Tambler. Every day at 4AM, it would set off from its terminal stop in front of the Tinagacan Elementary School, with passengers comprising of pre-selected schoolteachers, dock workers and canning factory employees headed for Tambler or any of HERT’s 17 other roadside stops along the National Highway.
HERT is slated to make two round trips in the morning and another two in the afternoon for its test run period, with space for 240 passengers at any one time. The vehicle could potentially service up to 1,800 passengers for its every trip.
Photo courtesy of gmanetwork.com