There’s a new type of public utility vehicle on the road and it says much of where things are going for the controversial program that, only about two years ago, was the subject of so much protest.
I am referring to the Isuzu PUV which has become part of the landscape of vehicles along my route on Quezon Blvd and España Avenue.
Only two years ago, over lunch, I was talking about the PUV modernization program with Joseph Bautista, Nora Liquido and Yvonne Linchangco of Isuzu Philippines Corp. Then, they could not even show the images of the prototypes because it had not yet been launched in the market.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) had approved the PUV Modernization Program on June 19, 2017.
Today, almost two years later, we see the Isuzu PUVs plying many routes, one of them the QC to Manila route, where I see them every day.
The face of the new jeepney is entirely new. Its production history is also very far from the backyard shops where the jeepneys were assembled. The modern PUVs now come from automotive manufacturers with modern and high-tech assembly plants.
Ownership and the system of running the new jeepney will also be very different.
“Jeepney drivers and operators must form a cooperative under the Office of the Transport Cooperative. Jeepney drivers will have fixed salaries instead of earning from boundary system. The cooperatives will be the ones responsible for getting franchises and for applying loans from government banks like Land Bank and DBP. The government offers 5-6-7 scheme, 5 percent subsidy (maximum of P80,000), 6 percent fixed interest for 7 years. The procedure for qualifying and getting loans takes several processes. The modern PUVs are sold through dealers, which are also tasked to provide all the necessary after sales support to cooperatives,” Joseph explained.
For now, IPC has chosen to call the variant the Isuzu PUV. It is now plying many routes around the country.
The first Isuzu PUV was sold to the Senate coop which now has 15 units. The other cooperatives who use the modern Isuzu PUV are the Metro Express Iloilo (15 units), Pasang Masda Manila (15 units), San Jose Transport Tarlac (20 units).
The platform of the Isuzu PUV is the Isuzu QKR77 long wheelbase that is equipped with Euro 4-compliant 4JH1-TC CRDI diesel engine that delivers maximum power of 106ps and maximum torque of 230 Nm.
It is equipped with a 5-speed MSB5S transmission, has a 7.50-15-12PR tires and a 75-liter fuel tank capacity. Like all the other Isuzu light duty trucks, they are assembled in Isuzu Philippines factory in Binan, Laguna.
The platform, plus the body and aircon, and all the accessories required under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines cost between P2.0 to P2.2 million a unit, Joseph said.
For 2019, the company targets to sell from 2,000 to 3,000 units.
“The first modern PUV was released to SETSCO last year. This is one of the PUV success stories, as it now ferries thousands of passengers from PTEX to Entertainment City, SM MOA, Senate and World Trade and CCP Complex,” he said.
And IPCs plans for the PUV in the coming years?
Joseph said: “As IPC awaits the signing of the DTI’s eco-PUV Program that will provide incentives for local manufacture of PUVs, it is now preparing its factory for higher volume production. IPC is also coordinating with DOTr for a nationwide roadshow that will promote the shift to modern PUVs. IPC will also launch its Isuzu PUV-X Program that will highlight “X” or “10”-point Isuzu PUV advantages.”
Definitely, the face of the ‘King of the road” – as the jeepney was known – has changed.
By Pinky Concha Colmenares