The Philippine Jeepney
Jeepneys are a popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They were originally made from US military jeeps (Willys) left over from World War II and are well known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating.As American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to local Filipinos. Locals stripped down the jeeps to accommodate several passengers, added metal roofs for shade, and decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors and bright chrome hood ornaments.Although the original jeepneys were simply refurbished military jeeps, modern jeepneys are now produced by independently owned factories within the Philippines. In the central Philippine island of Cebu, the bulk of jeepneys are built using second-hand Japanese trucks, originally intended for hauling cargo rather than passengers. These are euphemistically known as "surplus" trucks.
Jeepney as Mode of Transportation
After the war, surplus army jeeps were converted into the famous "jeepneys" seating about 12 to 15 passengers on longitudinal benches behind the driver’s partition. They are privately owned and ply along fixed routes painted on the side of the vehicles. Fares are modest, and they stop anywhere on request.Enterprising Filipinos salvaged the engines of surplus GI jeeps that were about to be disposed of, and used them to manufacture then much needed low-cost mass transportation vehicles. The engines were given an all-new body and design, and with an unsurprising touch of creativity and ingenuity, out came the uniquely Filipino jeepney.The jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to re-establish inexpensive public transportation, which had been virtually destroyed during World War II. Recognizing the wide-spread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to place restrictions on their use. Drivers now must have specialized licenses, regular routes, and reasonably fixed fares.
Payment while on a jeepney is on an honesty basis, with the jeepney driver just hoping that everyone who goes on his vehicle will pay the required amount for the distance traveled. Apart from the occasional companion while driving, the jeepney driver has little way of knowing who among his passengers has not paid. Sometimes, designers therefore put on signs to stoke the conscience of passengers, or to admonish passengers who fail to pay, with lines like “God knows Judas not pay.”Today, the jeepney is the most popular mode of transport in the Philippines, owing to cheap fare and the convenience afforded to passengers to board and alight practically anywhere they want. It is said to be comparable to the jitney, the taxi/minibus that travels along a fixed route, found in many countries. However, every single Philippine jeepney is personalized – each one dressed up and given little touches that are often reflective of common-man sentiments of the time.
The unique thing about jeepneys is that no jeepney is exactly the same as another. Each jeepney is a testament to the artistic ability of the designer assigned to it. Work on the vehicle itself sometimes takes much shorter than work on the design and decorations on the vehicle, as the former has become almost mechanical, but the latter requires repetitive planning, and sometimes, mistakes can put back the designing effort by 1 or 2 weeks behind. It is a matter of pride for a jeepney designer to come up with a jeepney pleasing to the eye, and with an interior design that is both beautiful and not an impediment to function.Local companies like Sarao Motors and Francisco Motors are prominent names in jeepney production in the Philippines. These companies build jeepneys piece by piece and in painstaking individual production. Buyers may have jeepneys made on a contractual basis, with designs specified by them. Visitors often pass by the workshops to watch jeepney artisans at work, to which the latter have no objection.
Jeepneys of the Future
ELECTRIC JEEPNEYThe jeep was created by Solar Electric Co. (Solarco). The jeep is said to have a range of 120 km on an 8 hour charge while ferrying 17 passengers. According to Solarco, it would cost about P150.00 to charge the vehicle for 8 hours.AIR CONDITIONED JEEPNEYDue hot sunny days in the Philippines, air-conditioned jeepneys were developed which are good for long road travel. But air-conditioned jeepneys are rare and are considered a novelty with less than 20 air-conditioned units being registered as of October 1997.
Other Means of Transportation in the PhilippinesClick thumbnail to view full-size
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