State-run Land Bank of the Philippines put up a P1-billion credit facility for a pilot project covering the replacement of an initial 650 public utility jeepneys with electric vehicles costing P1.4 million to P1.6 million per unit.
Finance Secretary and LandBank chairman Carlos Dominguez III signed a memorandum of understanding with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for the jeepney modernization program. LandBank president Alex Buenventura and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Martin Delgra III witnessed the signing.
Dominguez said the jeepney modernization program of the government would require public diplomacy to convince drivers, operators and the riding public that it was time to replace the old vehicles with cleaner, healthier, safer and more fuel-efficient electric cars. He said around 220,000 PUJs across the country needed to be modernized.
“We will try to replace 220,000 aging and inefficient jeepneys nationwide with new vehicles. The replacement vehicles will help clear the air literally, make commuting safer for the public and contribute to a more rational public transport system,” Dominguez said during the signing ceremony in Davao City.
Dominguez said the government should carry out the difficult task of convincing PUJ drivers and operators as well as the riding public that the “well-loved” Philippine jeepney has become an “inefficient dinosaur” that “must now be relegated to the museum.”
He said that in the past, there were several attempts to modernize the country’s public transport system, among them a plan by the Development Bank of the Philippines 10 years ago to replace passenger buses plying Edsa with new ones running on liquefied natural gas.
All the other previous efforts although financially feasible for the bus companies were met with resistance.
“There will be political resistance, no doubt, from those who do not wish change. We will have to conduct effective public diplomacy to raise the acceptance of this program. We must convince the jeepney drivers and operators that this is the way to go. They must understand the financing package will make the shift affordable,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said he was “confident the government agencies participating in the program have the political will to see this program through.”
“It will be an important contribution to fighting climate change. It will help decongest our exhausted roads. It will make commuting a more pleasant activity for our bedraggled commuters,” he said.
Dominguez said the three agencies primarily involved in the jeep modernization program―the DoF, DOTr, and LandBank―pooled their talents and resources to realize the goal of bringing the country’s public transport system to the 21st century.
“Everywhere in the world, countries are looking into new transport modes to keep the air clean, move people efficiently and decongest the roads,” Dominguez said.
“In a few short years, electric cars are expected to outsell conventional vehicles running on fossil fuel,” he said.
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