Should Jeepneys Be Phased Out?
Back in May, our Philippine correspondent, HAROLD, wrote this article which resonated with many road users in The Philippines. Here is the translated version.
Jeepneys numbering around 400,000 nationwide are used by 40% of Filipinos, particularly those from the lower income groups. This is the cheapest form of transportation whereby passengers are charged Php 7.50 (USD0.15) per 4-kilometer ride. Truth be told, riding a jeepney is a bit of a challenge: 18 passengers are forced into the vehicle; it is uncomfortable; there are no air conditioning making it too hot and lacking proper ventilation; it can be smelly sometimes and, the bonus of it all, you are breathing in polluted air.
Jeepneys started becoming popular after World War II. The old jeeps that the Americans left behind were converted and expanded into vehicles of public conveyance. They were painted with multi-color schemes and accented by decorative stuff, making them more like moving road decoration than transport vehicles. They have in fact become a cultural symbol of the Philippines and miniatures are popular souvenir items.
The problem however is this: Jeepneys also became the leading cause of traffic jams in the metropolis because they stop to load and unload passengers wherever and whenever they like. Because jeepney drivers need to reach a daily quota (they call it “boundary”), they all crowd at certain spots where passengers are waiting for a ride and, hence, take up 2 to 3 lanes of the road, despite the utter anger and boiling tempers of the vehicle drivers behind them. This anarchic lack of discipline on the part of the jeepney drivers is justified by them as “pursuit of lowly livelihood”, as if saying that the inconvenienced motorists following behind them are not pursuing some form of livelihood.
Aggravating the problem is the fact that jeepneys are powered by surplus second-hand engines from Japan; they lack proper preventive maintenance and emit harmful emissions, making them like killing machines. There are even jeepneys that are not roadworthy, unfit to move on roads, much less carry passengers—with one smash of a baseball bat, such jeepneys will disintegrate.
These problems are made even worst ironically by some (not all) jeepney drivers who claim in the posters they hang on their jeepneys that “jeepney drivers are sweet lovers”. Yet they are notoriously undisciplined, discourteous, vulgar and inconsiderate.
SO HERE IS THE IMPORTANT QUESTION – WHAT DO WE DO WITH THESE JEEPNEYS? HERE ARE WHAT SOME QUARTERS ADVOCATE:-
- Phase out the old jeepneys and replace them with Electric Powered & Air-Conditioned Jeepneys for a more convenient and pollution-free ride. This is now piloted in the city of Makati but the cost of acquisition is high, hence tripling the fare;
- Remove all the jeepneys from the streets of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, and replace them with proper “London” passenger bus with wide doors for faster loading and unloading (a few of these are now on the roads), and let the still roadworthy jeepneys ply the routes in the rural areas with insufficient transport, so that the “sweet lover drivers” will not lose their livelihood;
- Remove all the jeepneys and replace them with proper mass transit train and bus service. This is a long-term solution but in the short-term, while the expansion and extension works are now being implemented by the Duterte administration, triple the number of trains in our LRT 1, 2 and 3 lines so that the train interval becomes every 3 minutes—this is not rocket science!;
- The first thing to do immediately is impound all jeepneys unfit for public conveyance and give the operators 3 months to replace them with electric jeepneys, or move their franchise to less motorized areas in the provinces, using vehicles fit for public conveyance and are pollution-free;
- Designate “Loading and Unloading” zones for jeepneys. This must be strictly enforced. Jeepney drivers and passengers alike should both be penalized for violating this rule;
- For jeepney drivers who violate the traffic rules, don’t confiscate their licenses because many of them simply use fake licenses; impound their jeepneys instead so it deprives them of their livelihood and the operator then are inconvenienced also;
- Drivers should wear proper uniforms with clean shirts and shoes so they don’t look like criminals and drug addicts;
- Demolish illegal jeepney terminals. Roads and Sidewalks are not terminals.
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AND OPINIONS SO THAT WE CAN BRING THEM TO THE ATTENTION OF OUR POLICY MAKERS. LET’S FIND A BETTER SOLUTION FOR THE STILL UNSOLVED TRAFFIC MESS IN THE METROPOLIS.
image source: filipinoaustralianjournal.com.au