(SPOT.ph) The jeepney, whether you like it or not, has become a cultural symbol of the Philippines—and as news of the PUV Modernization Program being met with pushback (read: the transport strike) continues, one transport group has come forward with a modern jeepney that might answer some of the project's shortcomings.
The Association of Committed Transport Organizations Nationwide Corp.'s version of the modern jeepney is one that keeps the old look while still having modern efficiencies, and most importantly, is much cheaper than the current models being rolled out.
The Association of Committed Transport Organizations Nationwide Corp.'s (Actona) prototype was presented to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on Monday, March 6. The following day, the board said that they are open to keeping the traditional jeepney look so long as the unit meets the Philippine National Standards set by the Department of Trade and Industry.
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What are the new features of the modern jeepney?
According to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), some requirements to keep the traditional look should have upgraded features such as small electric fans, built-in security cameras, and a higher ceiling to allow passengers to stand inside the vehicle.
Actona's modern jeepney has two doors—one on the right side and one at the back—for a more seamless entrance and exit. Most importantly, it is also powered by a Euro 5 engine, which reduces the level of carbon emissions from the exhaust.
But that’s not the best part: Actona said this new unit will only cost P1.3 million with no air-conditioning and P1.5 million with air-conditioning, which is much cheaper than the P2.6 million-fleet of imported jeeps bought by co-operatives.
“The modernized jeep that you saw is clear proof that the traditional look can be maintained so the possibility of a phaseout is very, very remote,” LTFRB Chair Teofilo Guadiz III said in a media conference. “What we only wanted was to improve the roadworthiness of the vehicle.”
This is also in line with a directive that allows traditional jeepneys to ply the roads if it can be made to adhere to new standards, thereby lessening the need to buy entirely new units.
Will this modern jeepney prototype be the final look?
There’s no saying for sure if Actona’s prototype is the final look we will be seeing on the roads soon, but Actona Chair Juancho Caparino is optimistic about it happening.
“After our talk with Guadiz, it seems like it will push through because he already approved it,” Caparino was quoted as saying in the Inquirer. He also claimed that Actona's prototype has been finished in 2019 but was not considered for adoption by the previous administration.
Prior to this new version, the blue-colored, Euro 4 type Bagong Jeepney was unveiled to become the new king of the road in 2016. It was meant to replace traditional jeepneys as part of the PUV Modernization Program, but it has already began operations as a public transport service of minibuses and vans that is separate from the government's jeepney modernization efforts.
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