I’ve talked about public transport in the Philippines a while back. The most iconic of them is the jeepney. Its loud designs and ubiquity make it one of the recognizable parts of Filipino culture.
But the jeepney might soon become a thing of the past.
The Philippines has been trying to improve its public transportation in the past few years. They’ve been working on making it more efficient, environment-friendly, cheaper, and faster.
Because when you have a good public transport system, you actually reduce the number of cars on the road. Less traffic means faster traffic. Faster traffic means less time lost on commuting, less fuel consumption, etc.
In the past few years, different places in the Philippines have been experimenting with ways to do that.
Some areas are getting more buses because buses transport more people than jeepneys, they’re also easier to regulate.
For example, here in my hometown, they’re working on changing the status of public transport drivers from independent contractors to employees of a franchise or cooperative. That way, the drivers don’t need to chase a quota (aka boundary). The bus drivers will be assigned shifts and routes according to what the commuters really need as opposed to what the drivers are willing to take.
In Manila, they created a bus-only lane on their biggest highway (EDSA). This move actually encouraged more people to take the bus because it’s faster and cheaper than driving or taking a cab.
In places that are too small to get a regular-sized bus, they’re introducing minibusses marketed as modern jeepneys or e-jeeps. These e-jeeps don’t have the same flair as traditional jeepneys but what they lack in color they more than make up for with better fuel efficiency (some are electric), greater carrying capacity, air conditioning, cashless payment, and safety features.
As a result, the traditional jeepneys are slowly being phased out.
Jeepneys, despite their cultural significance, aren’t as efficient as public transport because it’s very unregulated.
Getting a jeepney franchise is cheap and easy in the Philippines. You don’t even have to have a garage to get a franchise (Although government regulations require that they do)!
Back then, jeepneys were nice to look at, with colorful flourishes, antennas and tassels, artwork painted or different colored reflectorized tapes cut into shapes, and those iconic horse sculptures on top of the engine hood.
Now, not only have most jeepneys lost their signature aesthetics, they’ve also become problematic.
-There’s little to no standard on the vehicle’s size, make, or age.
– They’re not fuel-efficient (most run on junkyard-bought diesel engines).
– Safety features are practically non-existent.
– Jeepney drivers are notorious for ignoring traffic rules like speed limits, stops, or where traffic should flow (I twisted my ankle on two separate occasions getting off a jeepney because of reckless drivers).
Last but not least, it’s also nearly impossible to ride in one if you’re a person with disability. This is especially important for me because I have a busted knee and twisted my ankle twice!
Am I sad that we might be losing the jeepney? Yes. It’s a Filipino icon.
But as someone who commutes regularly, I would much rather ride a bus or train. Much more comfortable.
Filipino people are especially good at adapting.