Chavit renews offer of affordable e-jeeps

Marichu Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Chavit renews offer of affordable e-jeeps
A fleet of modernized jeepneys, equipped with Euro 4 engines, remains idle at the San Juan Rosario Transport Service Cooperative terminal in San Juan City on January 8, 2024.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson renewed his offer to provide electric jeepneys at much lower prices to enable marginalized drivers to comply with the government’s public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).

Singson said he first offered his subsidy scheme for the acquisition of e-jeepneys to Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista as an option.

The first prototype e-jeepney, which was assembled in South Korea, is arriving this month.

The e-jeepney is patterned after the legacy public utility jeepneys (PUJs) but with a door and is a little taller, according to Singson.

Equipped with air-conditioning, it could sit 22 passengers, with six more standing.

Built at a cost of P2.2 million, Singson vowed to give half the price or P1.2 million under a rent-to-own repayment system, without any down payment.

“The drivers will just pay half of their daily earning to their drivers’ group which in turn remits to our company,” he explained.

Singson, who turns 83 years old this month, swears he has no more political ambitions but would only like to keep the iconic PUJs although with modern touches and not have them become eyesores or source of pollution on the roads.

In a visit to The STAR office yesterday, Singson disclosed he recently met with the respective leaders of the Samahang Manibela at Nagkaisang Terminal ng Transportasyon (Manibela) and the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) and presented to them the e-jeepney.

These militant drivers groups continued this week their transport strikes and refused to comply with the PUVMP, despite the lapse of the April 30 deadline set by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for non-organized drivers to consolidate into transport cooperatives.

The transport strike was mostly held in Metro Manila but which the LTFRB sought to downplay as hardly felt by commuters. Both the Manibela and Piston, however, disputed LTFRB claims, citing they did sporadic strikes so as not to inconvenience the riding public much.

The April 30 deadline for consolidation was the last extension granted by President Marcos in response to requests of jeepney groups. Following the lapse of the deadline, the LTFRB started the apprehension and withdrawal of existing franchises of jeepneys that are not compliant with PUVMP specifications.

The LTFRB’s taking away of franchises, according to Singson, was precisely the complaint of both Manibela and Piston and is why they refused to comply with the program.

Once they consolidate, this enables the LTFRB to give away the lucrative routes of their franchise, Singson said quoting the laments of the drivers’ groups.

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