Cebu gets glimpse of next gen jeepneys
Juan Tamayo is 73 years old and uses the jeepney to take him to places around Cebu City.
But for a man his age, the current versions of jeepneys plying the city’s streets aren’t that convenient.
One of the problems these jeeps pose for senior citizens like Tamayo is the low ceiling in the passenger cabin and the dangerous exhaust fumes the outdated engines produce.
So how does he feel about the planned — and about to be implemented — public utility vehicle modernization program?
“I am in favor of this (PUV) modernization. I think it’s time to replace the old jeepneys that emit thick black smoke,” Tamayo said.
Tamayo’s wish will soon come true as Cebu City was given a preview of the next-generation jeepneys that will ply its streets during a mini road show of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB-7) last week at the Cebu City Hall grounds.
Car manufacturers Isuzu, Hyundai, Tata Pasajero Motors, and Star 8, displayed their own versions of the modern jeepneys that meet the various specifications imposed by the Department of Transportation.
During the launching of the LTFRB-7 PUJ Modernization: The Cebu Invasion at Plaza Sugbu last Thursday, LTFRB-7 Director Ahmed Cuizon said the jeepney modernization program in Cebu will be implemented in three months.
“There will be a major change in the jeepney industry here in Cebu City,” said Cuizon.
He added that within the next three years, old versions of jeepneys will be phased out in the entire country.
“Jeepneys that are already 15 years old will be the first to go,” said Cuizon.
The new jeepneys meet the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Philippine Standards’ specifications, such as having a curb-side entrance, among others.
Tamayo won’t have a difficult time choosing a seat inside the passenger’s cabin as the new set of jeepneys will have a higher ceiling, enough for someone with an average Filipino height to stand straight. The gangway width for side-facing seats will also be wider for more leg room.
Part of the standard specs include an engine that will have low emissions in compliance with the EURO IV standards or better.
Other bright spots for the new jeeps include CCTV cameras for safety, more comfortable seats, individual cooling fans, and an automated fare collection system.
These features will be good news for 20-year-old commuter Tifanie Jane Escoton, who suggests that the modern jeepneys should be convenient to passengers. “It should be well lit, have security cameras and comfortable seats,” she said.
She added that should the plan push through, it would be a huge help for student-commuters like her who have to travel everyday.
But while most of the commuters are in favor with this plan, it is a different story for some jeepney operators.
According to 57-year-old Al Arcillo, a jeepney operator in Cebu City for two decades, the modernization plan has a lot of positive effects on the commuters and the environment but not with operators, noting the cost to purchase a new unit and maintenance.
“Your P1.2-million can already buy you three [current] jeepneys. Modern jeepneys cost more than that so the price is not that practical and the maintenance also is quite difficult for us operators,” he said. “I own 22 units of jeepneys that are in very good condition. [So I hope that] before we implement modernization, they should first listen to us operators about our needs and our suggestions.”
But the government already offers programs to make it easy for operators to shift to the new jeeps. The program will also help drivers do their jobs better.
“Under the program, traffic violations will be minimized since the drivers will receive fixed salaries. Some drivers tend to commit traffic violations because of the pressure to earn more,” said Cuizon.
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