Iloilo City a pilot area for modernized e-jeepneys

Iloilo City continues to bolster its thrust of transforming its public transportation sector by using environment-friendly modernized electric jeepneys. (Arnold Almacen/CMO photo)

Iloilo City is one of the four areas in the country which will pilot the deployment of more environment-friendly modernized electric jeepneys.

The modernized electric jeepneys, which were presented to Mayor Jerry Treñas last week, run on electricity compared to the conventional modernized jeepneys that run on fuel, according to Engr. Rowen Gelonga, regional director of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

“These are really modernized PUVs pero running on electricity. Instead of running on conventional engines nga gakinahanglan gasoline and diesel, those units are running on electricity so ang nagapadalagan is ang energy coming from the batteries installed in the unit and charged using electricity,” he said in a media interview.

As one of the four pilot areas in the country, Gelonga said that the electric jeepneys will undergo a comprehensive test run in the metro which will be conducted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Department of Transportation (DOTR), and the technical team of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

“We conducted initial testing last year but this time, it will be a more comprehensive test. Ginalantaw naton indi lang chemical performance but also feasibility or financial aspect and if found to be profitable, then, we can go full blast in promoting the electric jeepneys,” he added.

The modernized electric jeepneys are part of the PUV (Public Utility Vehicle) Modernization Program of the Department of Transportation (DOTR).

Meanwhile, DOST has partnered with the UNDP and the DOTr in testing the new vehicle models in relation to their development of new transport technologies like fast charging stations.

Gelonga said the operation of e-vehicles in the metro, once fully implemented, will complement the “Innovate Iloilo” program which aims to transform the city into a smart and sustainable city by 2030.

“This project is something that jives with our ‘Innovate Iloilo’ plan. Part of our target is really to transform the city into becoming a smart, sustainable city by making our transport system more environment friendly,” he noted.

Recently, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and Western Visayas Transport Cooperative (WVTC) signed a loan contract for the acquisition of brand-new and environment-friendly public utility jeepneys (PUJs).

The contract will lead to the deployment of 95 additional new modern jeepneys on the city’s streets in February 2023.

LANDBANK Visayas Lending Group Head, Senior Vice President Elsie Fe NB. Tagupa and WVTC Chairman Raymundo G. Parcon led the loan signing on January 19, 2023 at Richmonde Hotel in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

They were joined by WVTC General Manager Halley T. Alcarde and other co-op members, alongside LANDBANK Iloilo Lending Center Head, Assistant Vice President Giovani T. Baoy and other Bank officers.

The WVTC’s modern jeepneys will provide a convenient, safe, and comfortable commuting experience for Ilonggos on 13 routes in Iloilo City. The units will be equipped with air-conditioning, closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems, Wi-Fi connectivity, Global Positioning System (GPS), and a cashless payment system, among others.

More than the safety and convenient features, modern jeepneys have minimal impact on the environment as these will be compliant with the European emission standards for globally-accepted vehicle exhaust emission limits.

“LANDBANK remains committed to supporting the National Government’s agenda towards building a modernized transport system. We stand ready to assist more transport cooperatives and corporations nationwide to make the shift to safer and more efficient vehicles,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia Cayosa Borromeo.

LANDBANK’s financing for the purchase of modern jeepneys will also provide a sustainable source of income to over 700 operators and driver-members of WVTC, who were previously at risk of losing employment with the planned phaseout of old jeepneys.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa LANDBANK sa tiwala at tulong nito sa aming kooperatiba. Pumupunta sila sa aming opisina at talagang ginagabayan kami para matapos ang mga loan requirements. Sana magpatuloy pa ang tulong sa amin ng LANDBANK upang patuloy naming maserbisyuhan ang mga commuters sa Iloilo City,” said WVTC Chairman Parcon.

The WVTC was formed in 2017 to comply with the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) order to convert various associations of operators and drivers into a cooperative to operate modern PUJs.

In April 2022, the cooperative was granted a franchise by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to operate more than 550 units plying 13 routes in Iloilo City. The co-op plans to seek LANDBANK’s assistance again to fund its remaining approved units.

The modern jeepneys of WVTC are financed under the LANDBANK SPEED PUV (Special Package for Environment-Friendly and Efficiently-Driven Public Utility Vehicles) Program, which directly supports the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) spearheaded by the DOTr and LTFRB.

As of 31 December 2022, LANDBANK has approved P6.3 billion in loans to 138 transport cooperatives and corporations nationwide under the Program for the acquisition of over 2,860 modern jeepneys. Of this number, the Bank has extended P751.2 million to 10 borrowers from Iloilo to finance a total of 334 units. (DG)