Comet poised to take ‘King of the Road’ title from PUJs
MANILA, Philippines–Expect to see thousands of “Comets” streaking across Metro Manila streets in the next five years.
Roberto “Obet” Martin, president of transport group Pasang Masda, said his group was planning to replace 2,000 gas-guzzling public utility jeeps (PUJs) with City-Optimized Managed Electric Transport (Comet) “e-jeepneys” by next year.
Launched on Saturday in Quezon City, the electronic jeeps’ first route was from SM North Edsa to the Light Rail Transit Line 2 Katipunan station.
Last year, Pasang Masda signed a memorandum of agreement with Global Electric Transport (GET), the exclusive distributor of the e-jeeps, for the purchase of 10,000 Comet units.
In a phone interview on Sunday, Martin said his group was hoping to replace at least 5,000 old PUJs by 2017.
“We are urging operators to junk and replace their old units to cut down on traffic and pollution,” he added.
Pasang Masda has 30,000 drivers and 15,000 transport operators in Metro Manila alone. It boasts 120,000 members nationwide.
Martin said the “drop and replace program” would start in October, first targeting passenger jeeps plying the SM North-Katipunan route then eventually those plying the Lagro-Panay Avenue route, also in Quezon City.
Comet jeeps are powered by lithium ion batteries that can be fully charged in five hours. It can travel up to 80 kilometers on a full charge based on a data sheet GET furnished the Inquirer.
According to GET, it will cost less to power the Comet, as fully charging a unit will cost just P400 to P500 compared to P1,000 for diesel. The e-jeep has a speed cap of 60 kph.
“It’s not common for jeepneys to go beyond 60 kph as they have to pick up passengers along the way. Besides, we need to be able to bring the passengers safely to their destinations. This way, we prevent accidents,” Martin said.
He pointed out that drivers would also no longer need to compete for passengers as the Comets would have designated stops with drivers enjoying a fixed salary with benefits for an eight-hour shift.–Jaymee T. Gamil
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