The City Government of Davao, in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), is currently fast-tracking the development of the training curriculum for bus drivers who will be employed under the upcoming High Priority Bus System (HPBS).

The city’s new bus system is expected to employ at least 2,000 qualified bus drivers— all of whom will be required to undergo intensive training with TESDA.

“Under this project, we are looking to employ at least 2,000 bus drivers,” said Assistant City Administrator for Administration and HPBS program manager lawyer Tristan Dwight Domingo in an interview with the media on Tuesday.

Domingo said the HPBS program is currently evaluating eligible drivers who are willing to make the transition from driving public utility vehicles (PUVs) to buses.

“We have to prioritize our existing drivers because, as we try to transition sa atoang (to our) project. We have to make sure na naa pud silay kapadulngan (that they have somewhere to go). So ang priority nato (our priority) is our existing drivers,” he said.

A total of the 45 drivers have already passed the pre-qualifying evaluation and are set to undergo TESDA’s bus driving training course. They are from the existing pool of PUV drivers who signified their interest to be integrated into the bus transit system.

Aside from manual training from TESDA, virtual and digital training may also be added to the curriculum through AI-generated simulation exercises that will pose “authentic work environment” scenarios to further increase a driver’s competency in maneuvering real-life traffic situations.

At the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board headquarters in Bago Gallera here on Tuesday, a foreign engineering consultancy firm and a simulation-based driver training provider demonstrated its eDriver operating system which offers authentic simulations of driving environments.

The demonstration was attended by Mayor Sebastian Duterte, affiliates of the ASEAN Australian Smart Cities Trust Fund (AASCTF) of the Asian Development Bank, representatives from TESDA, and HPBS program managers.

Domingo said the demonstration serves as a study to gauge the level of readiness of the city’s drivers to a blended training curriculum which features VR technology and AI.

“The Ramboll group and Drivewise are experts or they have experience in providing training, so from their expertise and experience, we will develop our own curriculum,” he said.

Since a minimum of 2,000 bus drivers are to be hired, Domingo said the driver training module will be finalized by the HPBS and TESDA in the next few months and that training will start shortly after. CIO