There is a strong sentiment against electric jeepneys along the route where the COMET is currently operating. This opposition has always been there even before the COMET came about. I would like to think that this is partly due to the perception among many operators and drivers that conventional jeepneys would be phased out and replaced by e-jeepneys. But then isn’t this replacement supposed to be an upgrade in terms of having a more energy efficient and therefore economical vehicle that had a significant bonus of being low emission as well.
I finally got a photo of the sign Katipunan jeepney operators and drivers put up at the terminal below the Aurora Blvd. flyover.
Protest against electric jeepneys written on Manila paper and posted on overpass column at the Katipunan jeepney terminal
Given the recent innovations and the rapid advances in electric and other fuel vehicles, it should come as no surprise that more reliable and more efficient models of these vehicles will be available in the market. In the case of the Philippines where the thrust for e-vehicles is focused on public transport, there will eventually be a model that will comprehensively beat conventional jeepneys in every aspect. That is, if there is not yet a model that good. Arguably, the COMET and the latest e-jeepney model (BEEP) are already better than conventional jeepneys. However, their acceptability is pending with operators and drivers who seem uninterested with the case against conventional jeepneys. Perhaps these people are being fed false information by another party? Hopefully, they will open their eyes and mind to the reality that will eventually catch up with them if they do not embrace change.
Change is always hard. But in this case I think it is not just the new technology that the entrenched operators and jeepney union leaders are afraid of. With the e-jeepneys, they are afraid that many other things are going to change, like stopping at clearly designated stops, elimination of the barker jobs, stronger enforcement of traffic rules, and most of all, having to pay drivers regular wages instead of boundary system.
I agree. The current business and operating models of jeepneys aren’t sustainable and they are actually kidding themselves about it. In terms of operations and maintenance costs alone, their profitability is based on minimal maintenance that manifests in smoke belchers and constant breakdowns. I suspect the same for many bus and UV express operators, too.
The problem is not change. Those drivers would be very willing trade their old, junky, smoke-bleching jeeps to modern and environmental friendly e-jeeps. They will earn more due to it is cheaper to charge up an e-jeep than to fill up with diesel at a petrol station.
They are complaining about additional jeepneys plying their route. From Tandang Sora-Katipunan Ave-Aurora Blvd, there were originally two jeepney franchises, UP Gate-Katipunan and UP Campus-Katipunan. Here’s a newcomer COMET which operates from SM North-Katipunan via Congressional Ave taking away their probable passengers.
Defense of duopoly.
We should already have a lot of e-jeepneys and COMETs if operators and drivers are convinces of their advantages over their old jeepneys. However, we don’t so there must be something there that keeps them from trading in their old jeepneys that proponents of e-jeepneys are missing.
There is only one franchise for UP-Katipunan. UP issues a permit to a limited number of jeepneys from the group that UP allows to enter the campus as per agreement with the association. So its basically a monopoly they’re defending. One thing I observed about the signs they posted is that the group Pasang Masda isn’t among the groups that oppose the e-jeepneys. The info I got is that the head of Pasang Masda is collaborating with the proponents of COMET so there’s potential there for other groups to follow Pasang Masda’s lead.