The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said on Monday, April 16, that the country is finally making progress in introducing a new breed of jeepneys that run either on electricity or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Efren Moncupa, DOTC undersecretary for project implementation and special concerns, noted that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) recently approved the franchises of the first 20 e-jeepneys, which ply three different Makati Green Routes: Legaspi Village, Salcedo Village, and Heritage Village loops.
The new e-jeepneys run on electricity, which is less costly than diesel and does not contribute to air pollution. With this, the e-jeepney, which has been a boon to the Filipino culture but a bane to the environment for its reputation of being a smoke belcher, is set to get a much-needed reinvention, one that would make it more eco-friendly.
Apart from the franchises that the LTFRB has started granting for e-jeepneys, the DOTC have als started talks with various transport groups to convince their members to switch to environment-friendly modes of transport.
“A meeting with [the jeepney transport group] Pasang Masda was held. The group is proposing [the adoption of] a 21-seater e-jeepney that costs around P450,000 to P500,000,” Moncupa said.
Moncupa added that the DOTC is also looking to promote jeepneys whose engine will run on efficient and eco-friendly LPG. He said the DOTC is now in talks with a local supplier of LPG-run engines.
The move to reinvent jeepneys forms is part of the DOTC’s initiative to promote clean air in the country by coming up with programs for the transport sector that will significantly reduce air pollution.
Earlier, Roxas said the DOTC is also eyeing to steadily reduce the age limits of PUVs over time. Currently, buses have a 15-year old age limit; taxis, 13 years; and AUVs, multicab, and vans, 10 years.
The DOTC also signed recently a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the Philippines (UP) seeking for assistance in conducting research on environmentally sustainable transport policies.
These initiatives, said DOCT spokesman Nic Conti, should help the country improve its Environmental Performance Index. Last February, the biennial Environmental Performance Index (EPI) prepared by Yale and Columbia Universities ranked the Philippines 42nd among 132 countries categorized as a global “strong performer” in environmental performance.
The EPI, a project of the World Economic Forum in Geneva and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Italy, is a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking a country’s performance on its environmental policies.
Conti also said the move to promote e-jeepneys, LPG-engines, and younger fleet age for public utility vehicles should result in improvements in the amount of total suspended particulates, the measurement used to gauge air pollution.
“As it is, the country already recorded a 30-percent drop in the amount of total suspended particulates from 166 µg/Ncm (micrograms per normal cubic meter) in June 2010, to 116 µg/Ncm towards as of end of last year,” he said.
He added: “With these initiatives, as well as the LTO’s continued implementation of vehicle emission standards set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, we should be on our way to the normal standard set for TSP by the World Health Organization, which is 90 µg/Ncm.”