I love this ride
A look inside the modern jeeps
The first time I stepped inside this much-publicized modern jeepney, I was quickly amazed by the spaciousness of the vehicle that gives you a more comfortable vibe. I noticed too the small electric fans for individual passengers and of course the USB ports on each seat.
Another thing I noticed was the absence of the usual black smoke emission and the noise from the traditional diesel-powered jeepney. Of course, Meralco’s eSakay jeeps run on electricity with no exhaust pipe and no engine but only on a battery-powered motor making the ride smooth and quiet.
Rogelio Nator, one of the drivers employed by Meralco’s eSakay, said passengers enjoy riding their version of the jeepney not only for the comfort it provides, but also its safety features.
“There is a big difference between riding jeepneys that comply with the PUV (public utility vehicle) Modernization Program and
Even the drivers here wear uniforms and we have to wear shoes, but more importantly, there are dedicated mechanics and personnel to maintain all our units, so we don’t have to dirty our hands or even ourselves. We can always present ourselves to our passengers well-groomed and not smelling.
taking the traditional jeepneys. Our vehicles are cleaner because we don’t emit any pollution, we see to it our vehicles are well-kept and spotless,” he said.
“Even the drivers here wear uniforms and we have to wear shoes, but more importantly, there are dedicated mechanics and personnel to maintain all our units, so we don’t have to dirty our hands or even ourselves. We can always present ourselves to our passengers wellgroomed and not smelling,” Nator continued.
Commuters of the eSakay also share my observation about the comfort in taking the new “mini-buses.”
According to Nator, his passengers appreciate the individual electric fans installed overhead each seat. “They feel like they are riding an ‘air-conditioned’ PUV. So, they don’t sweat at all.
“And of course, the free wi-fi connection is a big hit especially during rush hours when traffic is heavy. The passengers can fiddle with their smartphones to browse Facebook, e-mail or chat with a friend. This way, they can stay connected with their friends, families or even work,” he added.
Ultra modern jeepney
Meralco’s eSakay initiative is in response to the Duterte administration’s PUV Modernization Program launched in 2017 and spearheaded by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. The PUV program aims to phase out old and dilapidated buses, jeepneys and other PUV that are at least 15 years old and replace them with more comfortable, safe and environment-friendly alternatives.
Tugade’s vision is to allow these new vehicles to comply with both international and local standards for vehicle safety conditions.
The Department of Transportation set these guidelines to participate in the program:
• The new jeepney must be compliant with safety and environmental standards.
• It must be equipped with a Euro 4 emission-compliant engine or an electric motor.
• It should have its entry and exit door on the right side while the rear exit serves as an emergency exit only.
• It should be equipped with a speed limiter, a dash cam, a GPS monitoring system and a closedcircuit TV (CCTV) system.
In my previous interview with then Meralco senior vice president Alfredo Panlilio, he stated that the decision to engage in electronic vehicles through the eSakay program is in response to the emergence of disruptive technologies that are changing the way people live.
The company, he said, realized that its once core business was providing electric transport system through the tranvia railway system when Meralco was still called the Manila Electric Railroad and Light Company.
“We’ve been wanting to be a leader in the industry way back 2011 and 2012 timeframe,” Panlilio said. “In fact, as early as that time, we started prototyping charging stations. It would add to our energy sales simply because it will give cleaner power instead of that generated by fossil fuel. So it’s really a future business. We might have brought in Tesla into the country in 2013 [when a Tesla] car was used by MVP (Manny Pangilinan).”
One of the biggest social impacts of the PUV Modernization is it encourages drivers to be more respectful of fellow motorists and more compliant with traffic rules.
“We are not bound by the traditional ‘boundary system’ practiced by traditional jeepney operators,” Nator explained. “We receive a regular salary per day, with all the benefits required by law like SSS (Social Security System), PhilHealth, etc. We also pay our taxes.”
Because drivers of these modern vehicles receive regular pay, there is no need for them to be stationary on the street to wait for passengers or pick up or drop off passengers as they please just to get more passengers to earn more.
This old system, Nator added, is one of the major reasons streets get clogged because of undisciplined drivers.
“We are very professional here,” he said. Indeed, Nator sounded highly professional during the interview and throughout the entire ride. The introduction of better technology for the PUV would encourage the public to take the jeepneys more often instead of driving their own car to move around.
After all, with the comfortable ride and professionalization of public utility drivers, the ride will not only be more pleasant, but faster as well.
It adds to our energy sales simply because it will give cleaner power over fossil fuel. So it’s really a future business.
THE modern electric vehicles are expected to dominate Philippine roads in the future.
RAVELO showing off the eSakay ride.
THE interior offers a comfortable travel experience.
FULLY charged ejeepneys will run up to eight hours.
PASSENGERS pay their fare upon boarding.