Leyte town goes green with bamboo taxis

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2009 10:07 PM | Updated as of Sep 22 2009 02:55 AM

Photos sent through [email protected]

MANILA - Residents of Tabonton municipality in Leyte thought up a "green solution" for their transport problems by crafting bamboo cars.

The cars or "bamboo taxis" were commissioned by Tabontabon Mayor Dr. Rustico Balderian, reportedly to address the municipality's need for an alternative mode of transportation to the oft-used but accident-prone "habal-habal" or motorcycle.

The bamboo taxis, assembled by local out-of-school youth, are equipped with a 2-cylinder engine that runs on coconut biofuel, a gallon of which can make the cars run for about 8 hours.

The vehicles are made with 90% bamboo, a strong but flexible grass.

The entire vehicle, apart from dashboard components and mechanical parts, are covered with colorfully designed "banigs" or handwoven rattan mats.

Various reports state that there are 2 bamboo vehicles called Eco 1 and Eco 2. They vary only in seating capacity and design as Eco 1 can seat 20 people while Eco 2 can accommodate 8.

According to an Inquirer report, neighboring mayors have already expressed interest in having bamboo taxis in their own towns. The report said Balderian is also considering mass-producing the novel car.

The report also said that the car's body is laminated with polyurethane, commonly used in foam, to make it fire-resistant.

Reactions

The bamboo taxi idea has been received with enthusiasm all over the world.

Examiner.com's Exotic Car reviewer Kae Davis called the vehicle "possibly the most exotic car" because of its unique concept and the "exotic" location in which it was assembled.

"The main question one might tend to ask about such a vehicle first is not about how the car endures monsoon weather or if the little car can actually produce enough speed to get up and go. It's whether or not, when the car is running, it actually smells like burning fuel or more resembles the fresh and wonderful summer beach day," Davis wrote.

In a blog post at www.inhabitat.com, Jorge Chapa of the Green Building Council of Australia called the cars "stylish" and "incredible."

"Bamboo is an incredible material - it is rapidly renewable, environmentally friendly, and does not require a ton of processing for it to be incorporated into designs. But did you know that its tensile strength is just as good as that of steel?" he said.

"This remarkable strength makes bamboo a fitting and exceptionally sustainable material for Tabontabon's new taxis," Chapa said in his post.

A similar bamboo car called "BamGoo" was made in Kyoto University, Japan last year. The electric car's body is made out of woven bamboo.

The Japanese bamboo car can only seat one person and can run some 50 kilometers on fully-charged batteries. Photos sent through [email protected]