The Department of Transportation has ordered modern replacements for the jeepney, fitted with padded seats, side opening doors, air-conditioning and electric engines.
The new vehicles, which look more like traditional buses than jeepneys, are intended to reduce pollution, improve comfort and safety, and make public transportation more accessible for the elderly and people with disabilities.
At a busy intersection in Manila, Yana Padilla, 24, an administrative assistant who commutes to her office two hours each way by jeepney, said she would miss the classic vehicle because it’s “the mark of the Philippines.” Nevertheless, she said, she is ready for a better ride.
Updating the jeepney alone will not improve traffic, but the government’s program also aims to organize routes better as part of a larger effort to improve public transportation in Manila.
Not everyone is persuaded. “We don’t believe it is really a modernization plan,” George San Mateo, president of the jeepney drivers advocacy group Piston, said of Mr. Duterte’s proposal. “It’s a marketing program for the vehicles they are forcing the small operators to buy.”
Originally Mr. Duterte threatened to remove the jeepneys as early as Jan. 1, but the Transportation Department has backed off from that deadline. Recently, it offered a slower phaseout of older jeepneys and financing plans for drivers and owners who are likely to lose their vehicles.
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