Cebu BRT expected to reduce harmful vehicle emissions

Air pollution levels along BRT route exceed WHO guidelines – BRT expected to reduce harmful vehicle emissions

Levels of harmful fine particles in the air at two sampling sites in Cebu City were found to be eight (8) times higher than the World Health Organization guidelines. Levels of carcinogenic pollutants, benzene and 1,3-Butadiene, were also at levels above the European standards. Air sampling was done at the busiest roads along the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route – at the corner of Osmena Boulevard and Escario Street and along N. Bacalso Avenue off the South Bus Terminal. The high levels of toxic emissions can be attributed to emissions from motor vehicles. Fine particles are a cause of concern because they can lodge deep in the lungs and cause serious illnesses such as lung cancers and even heart attacks.

Air sampling was conducted in July 2012 by international environmental NGO, Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia), Hong Kong Polytechnic University and University of San Carlos. The air sampling was part of the Air Quality and Health Benefits of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit study supported by the Cebu City Government and the Agence Francaise de Developpement (French Development Agency).

BRT Technical Working Group Representatives, Engr. Maricon Encabo, BRT Project Coordinator Atty. Rafael Yap, Cebu City Administrator Atty. Jose Marie Poblete, City Engineer Kenneth Enriquez, and ITP Managing Director Colin Brader receive Certificates of Appreciation from CAI-Asia Deputy Executive Director Atty. Glynda Bathan-Baterina and Mr. Luc Le Cabellec, Philippines Country Director of Agence Francaise de Developpement

The study found that the planned Cebu City Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system could, for a period of twenty years, potentially reduce vehicle emissions (at least 170 to 240 tons of fine particulate matter emissions), traffic fatalities and injuries (about 15,000 lives saved and injuries avoided), and result in fuel savings for the city (of up to US$638 million).

Bert Fabian presents results of the Air Quality and Health Benefits Study of the planned Cebu Bus Rapid Transit

The Cebu BRT could potentially result in health cost savings of at least US$94 million from avoided deaths, chronic bronchitis, hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiac complaints, emergency room visits, asthma attacks, restricted activity days and respiratory symptom days.

“Because the baseline air pollution levels are quite alarming, there is a need for an air quality monitoring system to be put in place along the BRT corridor in order to monitor the air pollution reduction from the BRT,” Bert Fabian, Transport Program Manager of CAI-Asia emphasized.

For more information, please visit the project webpage available here.

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