It was 4 a.m. in the Philippines, an hour and a half before dawn. Alex Gaspar, a 54-year-old jeepney driver, was already gearing up for his day’s work.
His usual route—Dapitan–Pasay–Baclaran—is a busy thoroughfare with students and workers commuting daily in Manila, the nation’s capital city.
Gaspar sips coffee while he performs the daily check on his jeepney: are the brakes and lights working? Is there enough fuel for the first few hours?
By 5 a.m., he hits the road to get the most out of the early rush hour, when his 18-seater jeepney fills up to the brim.
Gaspar spends 16 hours on the road each day. But he’s considering starting even earlier to catch the increasing number of commuters trying to beat the heat and traffic.
His motivation for working himself to the bone? To be able to afford an electric jeepney finally.
In 2017, the Philippine government announced its plan to phase out old diesel-run jeepneys and put newer, more environment-friendly ones on the road.
According to the government’s plan—the Public Utility Vehicle Modernisation Programme (PUVMP)—drivers who don’t switch to electric jeepney models will eventually lose their licences to operate their jeepneys as public utility vehicles.
“In the first years they announced it, I thought it was impossible,” Gaspar said. “How can all jeepney drivers in the entire Philippines afford new jeepneys? … But then the government seemed serious about it. We will most likely be forced to comply.”
Gaspar is one among thousands of other jeepney drivers and operators operators Jeepney operators own vehicles and the right to run them as public utility vehicles. Operators can be drivers or hire drivers to staff a fleet of jeepneys. who are up in arms about the programme. In March 2023, the national transport unions Manibela and Piston organised organised Inquirer.net Piston declares transport strike a ‘major success’ after dialogue with Palace Read more a nationwide strike as a response to the government’s plans. This paralysed the transportation system in select areas in Metro Manila, the national capital region, consisting of 16 cities.
“We are not opposed to the idea of modernisation,” Mody Floranda, the national president of Piston, told The Ken. “But the price is just too steep for us. There is no support. There are no choices in the market.”
By the end of 2022, however, only 6,814 6,814 Inquirer.net Senator bats for indefinite deferral of jeepney consolidation deadline Read more out of the 158,000 registered jeepneys have been replaced with newer, cleaner models.