ISUZU Philippines Corp. (IPC) recently embarked on a momentous project together with the Senate and its transport co-op Senate Employees Transport Service Cooperative (Setsco) by turning over 15 modernized jeepneys, which also marked the beginning of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) in the country.
“This is truly a landmark event for the PUV modernization program of the Philippine government and Isuzu Philippines Corp.’s active participation in this timely project. The fruitful collaboration between IPC and the wholly Filipino-owned Almazora Motors Corp. ensures that our commuters ride only in world-class public-utility vehicles that also take into careful consideration passenger safety, comfort and the particular locality’s needs,” IPC President Hajime Koso explained.”
The formal turnover ceremonies held at the Senate open grounds was graced by distinguished guests from the legislature spearheaded by none other than Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, along with fellow legislators Sens. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri and Sherwin T. Gatchalian. They were accompanied by other government transport agency representatives, namely Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Thomas M. Orbos and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin B. Delgra III, along with other key government officials and Setsco representatives. Leading IPC, meantime, was no less than president Hajime Koso, together with Isuzu Gencars Inc. President and CEO D. Edgard Cabangon, Almazora Motors Corp. Executive Vice President Conrad Almazora and executives from the private sector.
“Today, you and I are all part of history. Because, for one, we are the first [government] agency that implements this worthwhile project, and it’s very commendable that the Senate, through Setsco’s initiative, it’s one of the frontrunners of the undertaking. Especially that this year is the commencement of the implementation of the PUV modernization program. Another reason that we are now part of history, it’s because Setsco is the first transport cooperative and transport group that propelled the operation of modernized jeepneys. So I am truly honored that history has unfolded under our leadership,” said Sotto. The Senate President was also proud about setting an example and providing the Philippine transport system new aspects of being innovative, safe and environment friendly.
Since 2004 Setsco has been administered by Senate employees and now has joint ownership of 35 franchises granted by LTFRB and in compliance with the requirements prescribed by the DOTr. It was Isuzu’s known unparalleled brand reputation that prompted Setsco to choose the manufacturer as their best choice to represent a vehicle brand to pilot the PUVMP.
According to Setsco’s franchise holders, being a pilot project would necessitate that all aspects of the program “must go right from the start” in order to set the future course of the program, considering its magnitude and pending implementation nationwide. “Setsco exhausted all options available, most especially the vehicle brand for our transport services, and we came to the conclusion that Isuzu would be the best choice because of the vehicles’ durability, parts availability and fuel efficiency. Many of our members have experienced for themselves these qualities of Isuzu vehicles in their daily commutes.”
At the onset of the PUVMP, DOTr projected to replace around 250,000 aging and obsolete jeepneys in the country in order to serve the commuters with nothing but new, convenient, comfortable, safe and environment-friendly public-utility vehicles. “The formal turnover today at the honorable institution of the Senate of the Philippines, only means that we are starting the PUVMP program not just in the right foot, but in the best way possible, as our modernized jeepneys will provide safe, convenient, reliable and comfortable transport services to the people who render public service on their part,” said Koso.
Pilot modernized PUV units
THE preliminary 15 modernized PUV units delivered by IPC were based on the Isuzu QKR77 platform. The unified body, meantime, was designed and manufactured by Almazora Motors Corp. utilizing the Class 2 air-conditioned model with a side-facing seat configuration that could easily seat about 22 commuters. Locally assembled, the Isuzu QKR platform is equipped with a Euro 4-compliant 4JH1-TC Turbodiesel engine designed to deliver excellent fuel economy. It generates 105 hp and 230 Nm of maximum torque. Interestingly, telematics and speed limiter will come in standard to aid in fleet management, monitoring and safety.
The passenger cabin floor-to-ceiling height stands at 1,780 mm, while the gangway width is at 830 mm. These mean more room for the passengers, whether seating or standing, to move around. As for the automatic passenger door, it’s safely situated on the right-hand side, facing the sidewalk. Moreover, the fully insulated body with GeneQ shield have panoramic windows, windshields and provisions for persons with disabilities. Overall, this new PUV body is compliant with Philippine National Standards (PNS 2126:2017).
Of course, there are more modern features such as the LED TV monitors for real-time information including station details, route, date, time, weather, news and advertisement, LED electronic signage for route information, fire extinguishers, interior CCTV, dashcam and even backup cameras. But one of the interesting advancements is the automatic fare collection intended for the existing beepcard holders.