|Body and chassis|
|Class||Minivan, Minibus, Jeep|
|Body style||Multi-purpose vehicle|
|Layout||Front-engine, rear-wheel drive|
Jeepneys (Filipino: Dyipne), sometimes called simply jeeps (Filipino: dyip), are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They are known for their crowded seating and kitsch decorations, which have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art. A Sarao jeepney was exhibited at the Philippine pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair as a national image for the Filipinos.
Jeepneys were originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II. The word jeepney is likely a portmanteau word – a combination of "jeep" and "jitney", both words common slang in the popular vernacular of the era: "jitney" being a popular term for an American taxicab, and a "jeep" a newly coined term to describe a type of military vehicle (origin from General Purpose, or GP, hence Jeep). Other sources favor the far less likely explanation that it is a portmanteau of "jeep" and "knee", because the passengers sit in very close proximity to each other. Most jeepneys are used as public utility vehicles. Some are used as personal vehicles. Jeepneys are used less often for commercial or institutional use.
When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus Jeeps were sold or given to the Filipinos. An American soldier named Harry Stonehill was involved in the disposal of military surplus, and reportedly created a black market for the surplus including jeeps. The Jeeps were stripped down and altered locally: metal roofs were added for shade; and the vehicles decorated in vibrant colours with chrome-plated ornaments on the sides and hood. The back saloon was reconfigured with two long parallel benches with passengers facing each other to accommodate more passengers. The size, length and passenger capacity has increased as it evolved through the years. These were classified as passenger-type jeeps. The non-extended, original-seat configuration jeeps were labeled owners, short for owner-type jeeps, and are used non-commercially. The original Jeepneys were refurbished military Jeeps by Willys and Ford. Modern jeepneys are now produced with surplus engines and other parts coming from Japan.
The jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to re-establish inexpensive public transportation, much of which had been destroyed during World War II. Recognizing the widespread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to regulate their use. Drivers now must have specialized driver's licenses. Routes are regulated and prices are fixed fares. Illegal (unfranchised) operators are officially referred to as "colorum" operations, from the colour of the vehicle plate, which denotes a private rather than public registration.
Jeepney have been reported to be exported to Papua New Guinea and Vietnam, the former due to replacing buses and closed vans that are too costly to import while the latter has received some as donations to mitigate their traffic situation. 4,000 jeepneys were exported to Papua New Guinea in 2004.
Recently, the jeepney industry has faced threats to its survival. Most of the larger builders have gone bankrupt or have switched to manufacturing other products, with the smaller builders forced to go out of business. Passenger jeepneys are also facing increasing restrictions and regulations for pollution control, as they consume lots of fuel. A recent study published in a Metro Manila newspaper compared the fuel use of a 16-passenger jeepney to a 54-passenger air-conditioned bus and found that the fuel consumption for both was the same.
The planned construction of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in Manila and Cebu might lead to the removal of jeepneys.
In 2016, the Department of Transportation and Communications imposed an age limit on jeepneys of 15 years of age, with older jeepneys starting to be phased out. Many jeepney operators oppose the phase-out, and George San Mateo, leader of the "No to Jeepney Phaseout" Coalition, called the modernization program "corrupt". Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to drop its jeepney modernization program. As part of the PUV modernization program all new and existing vehicles must be fitted with a tap card system which allows commuters to pay for their trip. After multiple failed attempts at implementation and crippling technical issues surrounding the existing Beep Card many of the proposed systems were rejected by the Department of Transportation (DOTr). In 2018, Panta Transportation partnered with the DOTr to developing the Panta Transportation Network which utilises advanced RFID card technology in the form of Panta Cards. The cards enable value to be loaded onto the card, as well as allowing the journey details to be recorded and the appropriate fare deducted from the stored value on the card. It is designed so that passengers can tap on and off any services whenever they travel through the public transport network. The system received positive media coverage and reviews from jeepney operators calling the system "The future of transportation in the Philippines". The Panta Transportation Network has since been contracted by Isuzu, Hino, and Kia to be installed on over 75,000 jeepneies by the end of 2018 with further plans to have completely rolled out the system on over 250,000 vehicles across Metro Manila by early 2019. Further talks with the DOTr have suggested that the Panta Transportation Network will be the exclusive contactless fare collection system for public transport services in Metro Manila.
In the central island of Cebu, the bulk of jeepneys are built from second-hand Japanese trucks, originally intended for cargo. These are euphemistically known as "surplus trucks". Popular jeepney manufacturers in Cebu are Chariot and RDAK, known for its "flat-nosed" jeepneys made from surplus Suzuki minivans and Isuzu Elf trucks, which are no longer in use in Japan owing to road tax and obsolescence in their country of origin. These are equipped with high-powered sound systems, racing themes, and are said to be bigger and taller than those in Manila.
In Iloilo City, jeepneys called passad are known for being replicas of sedans or pickup trucks. The vehicle's body has a much lower profile which resembles more of a sedan chassis with an elongated body.
Nelson-type jeepneys are manufactured in Davao City and are known there as "uso-uso". The designs of these jeepneys are very different from the traditional style. These jeepneys feature modern front grille and body designs, lowered ride height, and industrial quality paint jobs. Newer models of Nelson-type jeepneys feature chrome wheels, equipped with radial tubeless tires. They are almost always equipped with a powerful stereo system, so they are often referred to as "mobile discos."
Many manufacturers are moving to build modern-looking jeepneys such as Hummer lookalikes and oversized van-style passenger jeepneys with headlights, hoods, bumpers and other components salvaged from AUVs and sport utility vehicles like the Honda CR-V or the Toyota Tamaraw.
In the Cordillera Administrative Region, especially in Baguio City and Benguet province, they have jeeps fitted with truck wheels. The same goes in other parts of the Philippines with unpaved roads.
Fully assembled with refurbished engines, some also have air-conditioning units, most popularly in Makati City. Most of these jeepneys have radically expanded passenger capacities, and are flamboyant and noisy. Many jeeps from this generation are notorious for belching smoke and almost all run on diesel fuel.
Passenger jeepneys from this generation and beyond may employ tailgates especially if they traverse expressways. These are usually rigged mechanically to be controlled from the driver side in lieu of electronic locking systems.
These are jeepneys manufactured using new engine components, particularly with recent Euro 4 engine standards imposed in the country. Many of these come with improved air-conditioning, CCTVs to help monitor incidents and an on-board Wi-Fi for the convenience of the passenger and closely resemble a minibus. Their doors may be situated at the back as a tailgate, or at the front, with doors functioning like that of an actual bus. By early 2019, they will be equipped with Panta Card readers.
Newer builds of this generation of jeepneys require CCTV, fare collection system, speed limiters, GPS and WiFi. Many brand new jeeps built in this generation are usually issued to transport cooperatives.
Local automobile parts manufacturers are now planning the production of electric jeepneys. Electric jeepneys are now widely deployed in several parts of Metro Manila and in some provinces, either as a staple transportation that completely replaces conventional jeepneys or as service vehicle. The deployments were in response to calls for reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the fluctuations in oil prices. These E-jeepneys will also be fitted with Panta Card reader as part of the transportation unification set out by the DOTr. E-jeepneys have come into economical question as the average cost per kwh electricity in the Philippines is unsustainable for owner operators.
Pros and cons of jeepneys
The jeepney is the cheapest way to commute in the Philippines. Because of its open rear door design, picking up and dropping off is easy for both passengers and drivers, they can stop anywhere unlike buses. But also because of this convenience, some jeepney drivers are the source of traffic congestion by indiscriminately loading and unloading passengers in the middle of the street, blocking traffic and risking the safety of some passengers. Some drivers engage in practices such as jostling over passengers, blocking other jeepneys to get passengers in the middle of the lane and trip-cutting (not completing the route, dropping off passengers if there are less than three to return to the jeepney stand and wait for a new set of passengers as it is not profitable for them to continue the route). Hence, some people are requesting that this mode of transportation be phased out, which is also blamed as a major source of air pollution in cities.
Jeepneys are often mechanically unsound, and not at all roadworthy, with their balding tyres, crabbing and yawing from distorted subframes, with poor emissions. Their longitudinal seating and lack of any seat-belts is less than safe. The low height of the saloon, and the extended roof above the driver, make visibility very poor. The high step at the back and the restricted height make entry and exit difficult. In addition, they have little space for shopping bags.
In response to the cons of the jeepneys, a massive modernization program has been launched that addresses the pitfalls that were long overdue for correction. Newly-manufactured jeeps must comply with new standards such as minimum seating capacity, better headroom, passenger space and distance, and Euro-4 compliant engines. Motor manufacturers such as Toyota, Mitsubishi (and their truck subsidiary Fuso), Isuzu and even some Chinese truck brands such as Foton presented their own prototypes of the modernized jeepneys.
- When season 5 of the American reality TV show The Amazing Race came to the Philippines in 2004, a segment of jeepney manufacturing was one of the task involved in Leg 11 of the show. The episode, which was broadcast the same year, was shot at the Malagueña Motors factory in Cavite.
- A BBC television program in 2011 called Toughest Place to be a … Bus Driver, a London bus driver goes to Manila and had to experience driving a jeepney around the busy streets of city.
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