“Beep… Beep… Beep”, the blaring sound of the jeepney that shakes the quiet and peaceful road to an undeniably noisy yet colorful sight. With its bizarre color combination and art. Present all day, from dawn until the sun falls, commuters find it accommodating to ride on one of the Philippines’ public transportation. Hailed to be the King of the road. Unlike other vehicles, jeepneys are known for their unique features and design showcasing the Philippine culture. Precisely, it is an even more affordable and convenient mode of transportation amid the congested cities and provinces around the country.
The start of public transport
Production of jeepneys began after World War II when American troops left a vehicle called Willy Jeep. It was a four person green jeep from the war. They left it in the Philippines because it would cost Americans as much if they shipped them back. So, Filipinos then took advantage of this leftover vehicle and utilized them. The modified jeeps were transformed into jeepneys with a newly expanded body. This paved the way for reasonably priced mass transit and contributed significantly to Philippine culture. Despite their beginnings as a short term solution, they have become widespread. After several generations, most of the original jeepneys are no longer in use, and today’s jeepneys are the result of years of production by regional automakers.
Body of work
At present, jeepneys have a body composed of aluminum and steel. They are distinguished by their gaudy bodywork, decorated with various pop-culture images, Catholic iconography, and Americana art. This includes flags and US landmarks, among others. It’s an odd combination that reflects the nation’s colonial past.
Jeepney’s open layout design facilitates airflow and makes it simple for passengers to enter and exit. During rush hour, commuters can quickly board and exit the slow moving jeep. Thanks to its open rear and side doors. Around 20 people can fit at the end of a standard jeepney. If it’s crowded, a few people may hang off the back of the two benches facing each other. Aside from this, the top can hold luggage and spare tires. Additionally, it serves as additional seating for people who want the whole sunroof experience. There are rails and steps which can be found on the two corners of the jeepney.
But what makes a jeepney unique is your peculiar trip experience. There are two different ways you can ride on a jeepney. Either wait at a jeepney terminal or flag down a jeepney currently in motion. You only need to wave your index finger for the latter option. Once inside, you may pass your cash to a fellow passenger as soon as you get on.
Long before the pandemic, the minimum fare ranges from Php 8 to Php 10, depending on how far your ride will take. The minimum amount is for discounted individuals such as students, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. However, the pandemic limits the transportation sector, limiting drivers’ income from their usual. In exchange, the minimum fare rises to Php 15. And you have to note that credit cards aren’t applicable for payinging. Just imagine if the traditional jeepney includes an automated teller for each one. Going back, you may hand in your penny, and a fellow commuter will deliver it to the driver, who will count out the change and distribute it in the same manner—often while driving. You’ll notice how Filipino culture is present even in a simple ride.
The future jeepney
Despite the tradition of a Filipino Jeepney, it is unarguable to discuss its inadequacy regarding safety and gas emissions. Due to this, in 2017, the government decided to carry out the modernization program of jeepneys that would phase out the classical design, especially those 15 years and older, with newer and enhanced models called E-Jeepney, short for Electronic Jeepney. The latest prototypes include emission engines, strict passenger counts, roomy and comfortable seats, adequate headroom, and accessibility to people with disabilities. New features include automatic collection, GPS, speed limiters, and CCTV cameras.
The new design is safer, more comfortable, and environmentally friendly for commuters. However, this indicates the end visuality of the traditional jeepney paintings will soon be replaced with either solid colors or advertisements. And it is a massive drawback for Filipino artists whose job is to create art that gives color and life to the vehicle. Should we stand for the traditional jeepney’s preservation or go for the new and improved model, even if it means goodbye to the culture showcased in the Filipino Jeepney itself and the practices during the ride?