MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila & Suburbs Drivers Association Nationwide, Inc. (PASANG MASDA) has welcomed the launch of City Optimized Managed Electric Transport (COMET) e-jeepneys set to ply the roads by June.
PASANG MASDA national president Roberto Martin said their group will be the first to operate the e-jeepneys. In a phone interview, Martin said that 10 units will be dispatched to operate at SM North to Monumento route by June with additional 20 units to be released on the succeeding months plying the same route.
The COMET’s Tuesday launch in Sofitel was attended by US President Barack Obama since the innovation was introduced by Americans through the US-based Pangea Motors, LLC which is responsible for the COMET’s design and technology.
Pangea Motors, LLC has an exclusive arrangement with Global Electric Transportation (GET), a partnership between Filipino and American investors which is the exclusive distributor of COMET.
Obama is said to support this project as an advocate of climate change. COMET does not need fuel, but only has to be recharged. It also contributes to the reduction of air and noise pollution.
Compared to lead acid batteries which is being used by other electric vehicles, COMET’s lithium ion batteries require less charging time and last longer. It takes five hours for its battery to be fully charged.
COMET can run an estimated 80 to 100 kilometers when fully charged which only costs a minimum of P500 for the electricity consumed per day compared to P1,000 to P2,000 a day spent by drivers on diesel.
Meanwhile, the 20-seater COMET e-jeeps will retain the cost of fares which is guided by Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) rules on fares.
According to Martin, the income of COMET drivers is based on the flip management system which depends on the route. In addition to their route income, they will also have basic salaries, health insurance benefits, and bonuses.
Martin added that the operation of COMET e-jeeps would not risk the jobs of traditional jeep drivers as they will only be transferred to a modernized form of jeepney.
COMET drivers are subjected to training supervised by Gawad Kalinga, PASANG MASDA, Land Transportation Office (LTO), and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
The difference between driving the traditional jeep and that of COMET e-jeep is that the latter is automatic or “atras-abante”, according to Martin.
GET president Freddie Tinga said that operators can acquire COMET e-jeeps for a cash out of P350,000 as first deal while GET will be the one to manage it (recharging, etc.)
COMET also introduces a cashless card payment system wherein prepaid cards will be used by passengers instead of cash simply by tapping it on the e-jeep’s entrance. Upon drop off, passengers need to tap the card again.
Martin said that prepaid cards like the ones in MRT and LRT stations will be priced at a minimum of P50.
Charging stations and prepaid card outlets will be established in road terminals. One possible location would be in EDSA Munoz.
COMET e-jeeps which are said to replace traditional jeepneys may retain the Filipino culture embodied in the design of traditional jeep if the owners choose to design their e-jeep’s outer appearance.
COMET, which can hit up to 60 kph, is designed to ply Manila routes with its air suspension technology that can raise the vehicle’s body more than 16 inches off the ground in flooded areas. Its batteries are also contained in a watertight casing.
A targeted 3,000 to 4,000 are expected to be delivered by the end of the year while 10,000 COMETs will be purchased by 2016, according to the agreement forged by PASANG MASDA with GET.
One percent of COMET’s gross revenue will go to Gawad Kalinga, GET’s social enterprise partner. GET’s social enterprise partner varies from country to country. (MNS)