MANILA, Philippines - Are electric jeepneys the future of Metro Manila's public transport?
Sleek and modern e-jeepneys may soon be plying the streets. The system, known as City Optimized Managed Electric Transport (COMET), aims to cut traffic and air pollution in the metropolis.
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama got a first look at the Comet.
Instead of running on gas, the Comet e-jeepneys use lithium ion batteries. Each vehicle can accommodate about 20 passengers, and is equipped with GPS, Wi-fi, a CCTV camera and a flat-screen TV.
Global Electric Transport (GET), the developer of the Comet, said not only will the system mitigate the effects of pollution, it will also revolutionize public transport.
The company would manage the fleet, put up charging stations, and handle deployment, dispatch, as well as fare collection using a cashless system to ensure all drivers on the same route would earn the same amount.
"In a system like this, you do the deployment, dispatch...And because its a managed transport system, what happens is everybody on the road earns the same kasi controllado ang fare collection," Freddie Tinga, president of GET, told ANC.
Around 40 units of the Comet will be launched next month.
The initial route will be along SM North EDSA in Quezon City to SM Megamall in Ortigas, via Katipunan.
Transport group Pasang Masda is leading the shift to e-jeepneys.
Pasang Masda president Obet Martin said the group is acquiring e-jeepneys as part of its modernization efforts.
"Maninibago ang mga driver, operator at ang mananakay. Ito ay modernong sasakyan para sa modernong Pilipino," Martin said.
Over 150,000 Comets are envisioned to replace diesel-powered jeepneys in Metro Manila over the next three years.
GET, a part US venture, is looking at the Comet as a solution for traffic in dense urban areas around the world.
"It's a solution not only for Manila, but for every dense urban city around the world. So we are having partners coming in from Indonesia in 2 weeks' time and another from Brazil. Ang itinutulak natin sa mundo is something that was configured, designed, imagined in the Philippines, so you will have the Comet becoming a global transportation solution at dito nagsimula," Tinga said.