Estrada to push e-jeepney plan in Manila

FOLLOWING the local government of Manila’s plan to remove starting this year all three-wheeled motorized vehicles plying the city’s streets to make way for environment-friendly electric tricycles, or e-trikes, Mayor Joseph E. Estrada said he also wants to replace old and dilapidated jeepneys with electronic ones.

“They are not only obsolete, these vehicles are also causing a lot of inconveniences to the public, [and] also a threat to their health and the environment,” he said in mixed Filipino and English.

The local chief executive added that he had received complaints of “trip cutting” by these outdated public-utility vehicles (PUVs) to avoid apprehension by the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic.

“That’s why I am pushing the modernization of public transport in Manila despite the resistance of the jeepney drivers and operators,” he said.

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While he conceded that his plan is “bad news” for the jeepney drivers and their operators, this is good for the riding public.

“I think this is the right time to push through with the plan of the city government to avail [themselves] of the financial assistance of the government for those who want to own and drive e-jeepneys [electronic-jeepneys],” Estrada said.

The initiative of the Duterte administration to introduce new and safer jeepneys on the streets was originally brought up by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in 2015.

The city mayor said that e-jeepneys in Manila will make PUVs conform to international standards, considering that they will have low emission, speed limiter, closed-circuit television camera, dashboard camera and global positioning system, or GPS.

In addition, they are person with disability-friendly. They will also have Wi-fi access, according to him.

Estrada said the plan to distribute e-jeepneys will be patterned after his e-trike livelihood initiative, which he started in the city’s Third District.

Per this project, the operator-driver will pay P150 a day sans interest for up to five years.

The Manila City Hall has already distributed e-trikes to a number of operator-drivers in Binondo, Santa Cruz area, Malate and Ermita.

It will soon distribute 10,000 units of e-trikes to other qualified tricycle drivers.

He said he pitied the poor drivers who have to drive long hours to pay for the boundary.

Based on research, tricycle drivers are paying P150 daily to their operators and are spending P200 for their gasoline.

Apart from these costs, they have to pay the high-priced engine parts. So a driver has to earn  around P800 to P1,000 daily to cover all these expenses.

“I pity poor drivers, who work hard just to meet the daily boundary, yet at the end of the day, have only a few bucks to bring home to their families, “ Estrada said.

With this in mind, he noted those who want to drive an e-jeepney would be put under a “drive-to-own” scheme.

“That is my plan to help the families of our jeepney drivers,” Estrada stressed.

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Roderick L. Abad graduated from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, with a degree course in Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication. He has 12 years of journalism experience, starting as a Special Features Writer in a major daily newspaper. In 2006, he moved to the BusinessMirror in the same capacity and, eventually, became a beat reporter. To his credit, he was a finalist in the 2011 Holcim Journalism Awards for Sustainable Construction and the 2013 Lasallian Scholarum Awards. He remains affiliated with the BusinessMirror as a contributor.