MANILA, Philippines - The government has encouraged jeepney operators to update their fleet to units powered by electricity or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for the new breed of public utility vehicles in Metro Manila.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said the worsening air pollution in the metropolis signals the much-needed reinvention of the jeepney, which, it said, has been both a boon to the Filipino culture and a bane to the environment for its reputation of being a smoke belcher.
DOTC spokesperson Atty. Nic Conti said the move to reinvent jeepneys forms part of DOTC's initiative to promote clean air in the country by coming up with programs for the transport sector that will significantly reduce air pollution.
Secretary Manuel ''Mar'' Roxas II has said that the DOTC recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of the Philippines to assist the government in conducting research on environmentally sustainable transport policies.
Roxas also said the government is also eyeing to steadily reduce the age limits of PUVs over time. Currently, buses have a 15-year-old age limit; taxis, 13 years; and AUVs, multicab, and vans, 10 years.
These initiatives, Conti said, should help the country further improve its Environmental Performance Index (EPI). Last February, the biennial EPI prepared by Yale and Columbia Universities ranked the Philippines 42nd among 132 countries categorized as a global ''strong performer'' in environmental performance.
The EPI, a project of the World Economic Forum in Geneva and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Italy, is a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking a country performance on its environmental policies.
Conti said the move to promote e-jeepneys, LPG-engines, and younger fleet age for PUVs should result in improvements in the amount of total suspended particulates, the measurement used to guage air pollution.