May 18, 2024

A plan that would have helped decision-makers come up with measures to address traffic congestions especially during the peak season of tourist arrival was called off after it received a backlash from some sectors.
The Baguio Tourism Council (BTC) did not push through with its plan to provide tourists with a free shuttle service through the Hop-on, Hop-off (HoHo) tourist bus during the Holy Week, saying it received complaints that the plan was detrimental to the public transport sector.
Although intended as an experiment and limited only to tourists, the BTC called off the plan, which BTC Chair Gladys Vergara said left city officials at the receiving end of blames.
“It is (unfortunate) that the initiative was perceived to be detrimental to the operations and income opportunities of the public transport sector as claimed by some of its members. Such was never intended by the council and it’s the least of the things that we would like to happen, as the transport sector is considered part of our organization as a major tourism stakeholder,” Vergara said in the advisory issued before the Holy Week.
She explained the plan was for the HoHo bus to cater to a maximum of 300 tourists per day, supposedly for the four-day experimental period and because it was designed as an alternative to those who usually use their private cars, it would have reduced 60 cars plying the road per day.
Vergara added with the 30,000 daily arrival projected during the peak season, as recorded in the Baguio Visita registration platform, the 300 tourists would only constitute one percent, leaving most tourists to still use their private cars.
She said the BTC did not disregard the public transport sector, since under the plan, it would encourage the remaining 99 percent of tourists to use public transport, “as part of the advocacy of reducing private vehicles on city roads.”
Vergara explained the Hoho would have introduced a road mobility system with designated unobstructed stops and strict regular departure schedules as a prospect for future development of an efficient public transport system.
“After the experiment, it was intended that further studies will be made with the public transport sectors to finally provide us solutions to the perennial problem of traffic congestion and the threats of over-tourism in the city,” she said. – Jane B. Cadalig