The city government of Baguio eyes the revival of the Hop On, Hop Off (HoHo) bus mainly to be offered to tourists coming to the Summer Capital with their private cars causing horrendous traffic in the city.
Supervising Administrative Officer Engr. Aloysius Mapalo said tourists coming to the city with their private cars will be asked to park their vehicles at the Baguio Convention Center grounds and take the HoHo bus to go around.
The City Tourism Office targets to implement the HoHo bus by July 8 and every weekends thereafter.
Data from the portal visita.baguio.gov.ph shows an average of 50,000 to 60,000 weekly tourist arrivals where bulk or about 40,000 arrive from Friday to Sunday.
“In just one day, we may have accumulated 30,000 tourists during peak season and this will really cause traffic all over the city, particularly along Botanical Garden and Mines View Park,” Mapalo said.
Botanical Garden being the preferred destination now receives an average of 2,000 daily visitors during weekdays, which increases to 5,000 daily during weekends per day and even up to 7,000 daily during holidays and peak season.
“Supposing half of the daily tourist arrivals have their own cars, we can estimate more than 800 vehicles passing Botanical Garden during weekdays and even more during weekends so really there is a lot of traffic in the area,” Mapalo said.
This prompted the CTO to propose the revival of the HoHo bus to be operated during weekends and help decongest traffic.
The HoHo bus will follow a self-directed tour circuit taking off from the Baguio Convention Center to the Botanical Garden as the first stop; the Mansion House as the second stop; the Mines View Park will be the third stop and then back to Wright Park as fourth stop via Gibraltar Road to decongest traffic and finally exits via South Drive to the drop off point at Governor Pack Road where tourists may walk around the central business district as well as visit Burnham Park.
The Hoho bus tour will also allow tourists to maximize their day, being able to visit five major parks in the city in one circuit with at least five to 10 minutes travel time from one stop to the next stop. Waiting time per stop will be 15 to 20 minutes to allow them to enjoy the parks or they may stay longer and still be able to catch the next bus in 30 minutes.
There are only two HoHo buses to operate with 30 minutes interval time per trip. The first trip leaves Baguio Convention Center at 8:30 a.m. while the last trip is at 6:20 p.m. departing from Wright Park to Gov. Pack Road drop-off point.
In a day, there will be seven trips which can serve 290 tourists, which can reduce at least 50 cars from clogging the streets in one circuit.
“The idea is ‘park and ride’ to decongest private vehicles parking in our streets and parks,” Mapalo said.
For now, the HoHo bus will be free but tourists will have to pay parking fee at the Baguio Convention Center. The parking fee will be used for the operation and maintenance of the bus and allowance of the driver and tour guide.
Mapalo said they will adopt the city’s existing parking rate at the Baguio Convention Center as follows: P35 for light vehicles for the first two hours plus P10 for every additional hour of parking; P40 for mini excursion buses plus P15 per additional hour; P400 for regular tourist buses and P15 per additional hour; and, P10 for motorcycles with P5 additional per hour of parking.
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong directed the CTO and the Traffic and Transportation Management Division of the City Engineering Office to consult the public transport sector before the implementation of the HoHo tourism bus to iron out concerns and issues. – Jessa Mardy P. Samidan