Filipinos are fearful they may soon have to say goodbye to the iconic jeepneys millions of commuters ride every day. The Philippines’ transportation department is working on a modernization plan that is expected to replace all jeepneys 15 years and older with electric vehicles, a step towards decreasing the country’s carbon emissions. The newer models would also help ease traffic in Manila by reducing the gridlock caused by mechanical breakdowns of older vehicles.
But drivers and operators are concerned about their livelihood. About 90% of jeepneys on the road could be affected by the phase-out, a coalition of transport operators has warned. According to transport group Piston, the department is considering a proposal to require jeepney operators to have a minimum of 10 units and capital of at least 7 million pesos (about $140,000). One electric jeepney could cost up to $26,000, the group says. The government has said it will help operators with financing, but some drivers are worried that they won’t be able to meet the necessary requirements.
In February, operators and drivers in Metro Manila and 20 other areas around the Philippines stopped services in protest. The difficulty of commuting without jeepneys pushed the government to suspend classes and work in some public offices.
The transport department said this month on its Facebook page that drivers will benefit from its plan and that it is still working on finalizing guidelines for jeepneys.