We Don’t Need to Ban the Jeepneys. They Will Go Extinct

Automologist HAROLD’s last article on the phasing out of jeepneys really struck a chord. So, he’s back again with more on the subject. 

In my previous article on whether we should ban  jeepneys from Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, I got over 800 comments and reactions—and these were passionate, some even angry, comments. They were surprisingly long, well-thought-out and sincere two- to three-paragraph-long reactions, which to me were signs of real frustration, if not desperation already, from the motoring public. About 70% of them wanted the banning of the jeepneys entirely. Others wanted an upgrade of the present jeepneys or relocation to the provinces where there is need for them.

But Filipinos know that the policy and legislation process in this country takes years in the hands of grandstanding and publicity-hungry legislators (that is why, out of desperation, Filipinos now even support extra-judicial efforts by an impatient and angry president). Then, there are the 400,000 jeepney drivers, with an average of five dependents each (so, two million people) who claim they will go hungry if you ban the jeepneys—and politicians will pander to get the two million votes. So, expect no legislation to ban jeepneys. In fact, even the pressure on them to upgrade and modernize is met with such resistance that this month, a two-day national jeepney strike is scheduled.

So, if policy-making and legislation fails, where are we to turn to? Let’s use the power of market forces. Think of these: we did not legislate or make policies to ban typewritters and replace them with computers, snail mails with emails, greeting cards with text greetings, conventional gatherings with social media. And, in transportation, Thailand did not ban the “toktok”; it was simply sidelined by more comfortable modes of transport. Oh, in the Philippines, we did not ban the “kalisa” (horse carriage); it was simply relegated to being a tourist attraction only. Would you choose to ride a “kalisa” now from Manila to Quezon City? It is not banned, but would you?

I believe that if we just do the following – via simple economic, business and entrepreneurial common sense – we will naturally render the jeepneys extinct and consign them to the museums:

  1. Bus companies to use the correct buses—the ones with wide entrance and exit doors for faster loading and unloading, not the present coach-type tourist buses. This will make more business sense. We see a number of them now along EDSA. Put more of these buses on jeepney routes, like Quaipo to SM Fairwiew and Alabang to Baclaranvia Las Pinas. This will make the bus service more comfortable so commuters will shift from jeepneys to buses;
  2. Presently, our LRT and MRT have more trains and three Extension Lines (to Bacoor, to Antipolo and to Bulacan) are being built by the Duterte Administration, so people will shift from jeepneys to light trains;
  3. The train service to Bicol and to Pangasinan are being rehabilitated. Soon people will ride trains rather than jeepneys;
  4. The UV Express will, due to market forces, be replaced by better vans like the new Nissan Van and Toyota Grandia, making point-to-point Shuttle Service more convenient, hence, shifting jeepney commuters to UV Express;
  5. Electric air-conditioned vehicles charging affordable fares are now being piloted by richer cities like Makati. Soon, these will take the place of jeepneys in shorter routes;
  6. Social Media and Development Communication Advertising are emerging and by sheer campaign for the practice of discipline, courtesy and ethics, jeepney drivers will either shape up or pack up.

Hence, I can now see that the natural flow of transport modernization that will result in more comfortable rides and not-so-expensive fares. Therefore, the riding public will naturally move the market from jeepneys to these better vehicles, and the jeepneys will simply go extinct. You don’t need to ban them; they will disappear on roads because they will simply go out of business!

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