E-BUS SYSTEM. Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte (center) leads the launch of the first e-bus system in the city on Friday afternoon (Dec. 11, 2020). The BEST – or Business for Environmentally Sustainable Transformation – Bus is the first fully electric, free ride shuttle service in Mindanao. (Photo courtesy of DLPC)

DAVAO CITY – In partnership with the city government, the Aboitiz Group, with AboitizPower unit Davao Light and Power Co., GET Philippines, and the Spain-based QEV Technologies launched the first e-bus system here Friday afternoon.

The BEST (Business for Environmentally Sustainable Transformation) Bus is the first fully electric, free ride shuttle service in Mindanao, making Davao among the first pilot cities in the country, according to the project proponents.

Mayor Sara Z. Duterte, who graced the event, expressed her gratitude to Davao Light and GET Philippines for supporting the city’s various initiatives over the years.

“Thank you to Davao Light and GET Philippines for providing Dabawenyos with a safer and more convenient transport experience, and for helping bring Davao City closer to a more sustainable future. You have provided invaluable assistance in the areas of health, the economy, the environment, and now, in the field of transportation,” Mayor Sara said.

She said the project is aligned with the city’s efforts to provide Dabawenyos with efficient and environmentally sustainable transportation options.

“These buses marry modern convenience, functionality, and environmental sustainability, and will be a treat for Dabawenyos this Christmas season, for not only are they fully electric and zero-emission buses, but they are also equipped with Internet connectivity, as well as ramps and wheelchair slots for persons with disabilities,” Duterte said.

Aboitiz Group president and chief executive officer Sabin M. Aboitiz said the BEST Bus aims to promote a safe and easy way for public transportation plying two downtown routes using eco-friendly technology.

“We also thank GET Philippines and QEV Technologies Spain for being our partners in this public-private endeavor. BEST Bus serves as our contribution to one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by providing innovative solutions for a cleaner, safer, and kinder world,” Aboitiz said.

Each of the buses, which will be operating from the Davao Light office in Ponciano here, has a maximum capacity of 30 persons.

In keeping with the existing coronavirus disease health measures, however, only half of the capacity would be allowed during the initial operations.

Davao Light president and chief operating officer Rodger Velasco said the vehicle's fully electric feature means no harmful emissions, only sustainable impact on the environment.

“As a responsible corporate citizen, Davao Light, together with the rest of the Aboitiz Group, our partners, especially GET Philippines, look at ways to support our beloved Davao City while ensuring that the environment is not harmed,” Velasco said.

The BEST Bus will ply two downtown routes daily, with bus stops every 400 meters along the way.

The BEST Bus rides may be accessed by the public for free via the BEST Pass on the GET Pass app, which is available for free download on Google Play and Apple App stores. (PNA)