Philippine Environmental Solutions: The E-Jeepney
The Electronic Jeepney, or the E-Jeepney, is a minibus that runs on electricity. The E-jeepney carries 17 passengers and can run 120km on an 8-hour charge from an electric outle using power from biodegradable waste.
In response to calls for reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the rise of oil prices, Robert Puckett, the President of Solar Electric Company in the Philippines, made the E-Jeepney his brainchild. With the support of Greenpeace and through the office of Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, four E-Jeepneys were deployed to ply routes around Makati City. Two of the E-Jeepneys were prototypes from Guangzhou, China and the other two were made by the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturars Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP). The E-Jeepney runs a maximum 40km per hour.
The E-Jeepney is still on its test phase, and will undergo technical and commercial test for 6 months in Makati City. If all goes well in the test phase, then the electric fleet of E-Jeepneys will increase to 50 units. Also, as stated in the project’s MOA, Makati City will also provide a facility that will generate power from the biodegradable wastes from the city’s food establishments and wet markets where the E-Jeepneys can be plugged.
Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, Baguio CIty in Benguet and Puerto Princessa City in Palawan have already also launched a similar campaign to make use of E-Jeepneys in their respective cities.
The E-Jeepneys are the first public transport system of its kind in Southeast Asia. Well, if you exclude the golf cart. Oh yeah, the golf cart isn’t public transportation, it’s privilege transportation.
Anyway, The E-Jeepny is a step in the right direction towards providing an environmental solution to the problems of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the cities of the Philippines and Southeast Asia. In fact, it’s so damn good that Greenpeace and GRIPP (Green Renewable Independent Power Producer) extended their support during the inauguration.
In today’s edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, there were reports that Boracay mayor Wilbec Gelito will also be making use of the E-Jeepneys in the island of Boracay to lessen the air and noise pollution caused by the 2-stroke engine tricycles that are abundant on the island. According to the article, the tricycles in Boracay have increased by as much as three times over the last 5 years, with a total of about 1,800 tricycles in the area. These tricycles give out a lot of smog and are also responsible for the noise pollution which goes to up to around 70 decibels. Hearing damage due to long-term exposure is pegged at some 80-90 decibels and a jack hammer is at around 100 db. In other words, the tricycles are loud. However, they have been made the main choice of transportation because of its affordability, durability and easy maintenance.
But then, so far, the studies on the E-Jeepney have shown that eventually it will save money for the drivers because it will do away with the expenses for oil and gasoline. How much it will save is currently being studied with the Makati project.
My Two Cents on The E-Jeepney
I’m all for the E-Jeepney and I really do hope that more of these vehicles will be deployed in the country. Makati City will be deploying 50 units if the test phase works. That sounds good, but I’m sure they can do better. I see the potential of the small step being undertaken by Makati City, Bacolod City, Puerto Princessa City, Baguio City, GRIPP, Greenpeace, the Solar Electric Company, and “to whom else is concerned” but the 50 units that will ply Makati City is still no match to the thousands of carbon-dioxide emitting vehicles, which includes the buses and the other jeeps. Apart from putting the E-Jeepney into the picture, there should also be efforts to get rid of the smoke-belching vehicles from the streets. If you don’t take them out, the pollution will still be significant, and 50 E-Jeepneys might not be able to compete with the thousands of smoke-belchers in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions. This is not Sparta! And worse still, the 50 E-Jeepneys might just add to the traffic problem. Of course, I mean that in humor and not in skepticism.
Eventually, the E-Jeepney should also be considered to become an E-Bus, so that they can replace the smoke-belching buses that ply the EDSA route. I’m sure everyone will appreciate an E-Bus on EDSA that runs 40km per hour.
Apparently one of these E-Jeepneys will costs around Php370,000. Well, at least the prototypes from China. Definitely, it’s not that cheap for the regular jeepney driver to afford, but then with the proper financing from other groups, corporations and organizations, then these can be made more affordable. Maybe even the oil firms of our country can step up to include an electric charging unit in their gas stations that runs on biodegradable waste. Bright idea there.
Personally, I would love to see the E-Jeepney dominate the entire public transportation system in the cities. Leave the buses for provincial routes, but let the E-Jeepney dominate the city scene. EVERY CITY!