Among the many public transportation vehicles in the Philippines, only one represents the vibrant cultural heritage of the Filipinos: jeepneys. Jeepneys, also called as public-utility jeepneys (PUJ), are the most popular form of transportation according to research (Westerman, 2018). It exemplifies the resourcefulness and the creativity of the Filipinos through pious and beautiful art creations painted, drawn, and/or written on its exterior, “normally depicting family portraits, religious icons, sceneries, movie and anime characters, dream cars, and dream girls (Ragodon, 2017, para.
8).” Jeepneys exhibit a vast Philippine history, existing not to merely serve the Filipinos but also to share the beauty of a Filipino’s values.
Jeepneys are an immense help to mankind. In order to ride it, one must have only a few coins in his/her pocket because of its cheap fare (8 php). This fare benefits both the affluent and poor sectors of society. Riders pass their payment forward for it to reach the driver—a process that encourages abnegation and honesty among the riders which shows and develops “Filipino hospitableness”, a quality that is often recognized by non-Filipinos. Moreover, Jeepneys have a boundless number of routes, making it more convenient for riders to reach far destinations.
Although jeepneys benefit the Filipinos in various ways, it further worsens the current state of the Philippines. Jeepneys depend on remodeled parts and damaging diesel, contributing to the Philippines’ intense traffic and pollution problems (Gregorio, 2018, para. 4). It emits harmful gases that may affect people, plants, animals, and the atmosphere—all of which may permanently affect the environment detrimentally.
Furthermore, jeepneys put the welfare of its driver and riders at risk. Aside from allowing its riders to inhale dangerous gases (particularly carbon dioxide), jeepneys provide a “dirty, uncomfortable and often unsafe way to travel (“Jeepneys just part of the problem”, 2017, para. 1)”. Riders would have to struggle being squished in a tight-spaced, rectangular seat without any protection from the smoke that enters the vehicle through its windows. While riders are direct victims of harmful air, a World Bank report shows that Jeepney drivers are direct victims of harmful air, being the leading victims of air pollution in the year 2002 (as cited in Crisostomo, 2003, para. 1).
In addition, increasing fuel costs due to economic inflation affects jeepney drivers. For a high fuel cost that lasts for a few days, jeepney drivers would have to sacrifice a portion of their irregular income in order to pay the said cost. Castillo (2017) stated the following:
Under the current system the average gross venue of a jeepney driver would be around P4,000 a day. Take away about P1,000 for fuel, P600 for operator boundary or driver salary, and maintenance costs racking up P400. The driver would then be left with P2,000, working for roughly 16 to 18 hours a day. (para. 4)
Aside from suffering from these, jeepney drivers also suffer from the poor design of the vehicle as proven by a study administered by the College of Engineering of the University of the Philippines Diliman (Tantiangco, 2016, para. 1). Because his/her area inside the jeepney is narrow, small, and restricted, the jeepney driver experiences health issues and discomfort. He/she chooses to neglect this problem, however, “simply because there will be monetary costs in solving these problems and because they have grown accustomed to these conditions (Tantiangco, 2016, para. 5). ”
To combat these jeepney problems, the Department of Transporation issued Department Order No. 2017-011, also known as the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), “a flagship program of the Duterte administration which envisions a restructured, modern, well-managed and environmentally sustainable transport sector where drivers and operators have stable, sufficient and dignified livelihoods while commuters get to their destinations quickly, safely and comfortably,” as defined by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) (para. 1). This program aims to replace jeepneys (as well as buses and utility vans) 15 years old or older with newly improved “modernized” PUVs that are safe, ethical, and environmental- and cost-friendly.
Two kinds of jeepneys will be used for the jeepney modernization: electric jeeps and Euro-4 compliant jeeps, both of which are well-designed for the comfort of its passengers. Though the new, modernized jeepneys allow 20 to 22 riders to sit inside it, the riders would not have to squeeze each other in in order to fit. Windows are covered and some PUVs have an air conditioner. These are some of the new adjustments the government has added for the comfort and benefit of the riders.
To account for the security and safety of the jeepney riders, the new PUVs have been installed with CCTVs, GPS, and speed limiters according to Flores (2017, para. 20). Flores (2017) also said that people with disabilities (PWD) “will have easier access (para. 20)”, as opposed to the old jeepneys that do not give much access to PWDs; “safety officers will be assigned (para. 20)”. Riders may now ride PUVs to their hearts content, assured that their safety is prioritized.
The modernized PUV does not only benefit its riders, it will also benefit its driver. Castillo (2017) said that “cost would be cut significantly and drivers can take home more… All these are due to brand-new engines that require less maintenance (para. 5).” The earnings of a driver increases.
As the Philippine government instills the PUV modernization progam, jeepney drivers may have a difficult time adapting due to the required payment of the new jeepney—800 php a day. The government, however, has promised to give subsidy to the drivers (CNN Philippines staff, 2018, para. 13) and has partnered with Landbank and DBP in order to aid in carrying the funds (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, n.d., para. 4). PUV drivers are to be engaged in training sessions that will equip them with the knowledge they need (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, n.d., para. 4).
The Philippines will grow further as nation if public transportation works for the benefit of its citizens. With modernized PUVs, Filipinos would be better taken care of and protected—physically and emotionally—surrounded by an environment that reflects its heart and supports nature.