The Evolution of Philippine Jeepneys

Jeepneys lining up at Talisay City

The Jeepney is a Filipino icon and a symbol of the ingenuity and creativity of Philippines people. These colorful public transport options started being developed in the 1950s. The American military had left the Philippines after World War II, leaving behind numerous vehicles. Mecchanically-minded Filipinos took these vehicles and redesigned them into a new form of public transport. Little did they know that this innovative idea would become an undeniable part of Philippine history, as well as arguably the most popular form of transportation in the archipelago. This automotive amalgam became what Filipinos refer to as jeepneys or jeeps.

These Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) are some of the most popular options for transportation in the Philippines. Students, workers, and travelers take jeeps to different parts of the city every day with ease. In Cebu, you can easily remember the travel routes because of the number scheme set up by the authorities.

One of the biggest advantages of jeepneys in the Philippines is their affordability. With a minimum fare of 10 pesos, you won’t have to spend a lot to get on one. Convenience is one of the major benefits of using a jeepney. You can always find a jeep in any of the heavily trafficked areas within the city, such as Carbon and Colon. Jeepneys are constantly passing through these arteries of the city.

Using a Jeepney, you can definitely save on transportation, and put that extra cash towards street food and visiting some of the most popular heritage sites in the city.

Jeepneys are definitely memorable, due in large part to the distinct designs, images, and artwork covering them. Murals of famous characters and typography of famous sayings are a staple in their design.

When you get in one, you can expect to share the vehicle with multiple other people, since jeepney seating consists of two benches facing each other. Some passengers even opt to stand on the steps at the entrance of the vehicle and hang on. This is typically when the jeep has reached its maximum capacity.

The inside of a Philippine jeepney

The inside of a traditional jeepney.

All of this is included in a vehicle that will forever be remembered throughout Philippine history as an important contributor to transportation and economical living in the country.

The jeepney has even developed somewhat of a cultural image worldwide. Many influential people have been seen getting in these passenger cars during their visits to the Philippines. Some of these include Pope John Paul II and Fast and Furious star Vin Diesel.

As time goes by, however, technology has begun to take its course, and the country’s “King of the Road” is starting to get a major upgrade.

Modernized Jeepneys

In 2018, the Philippine government proposed a public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program that could potentially make commuting a breeze for individuals in busy places like Cebu. The jeepney modernization program will replace traditional jeeps that are 15 years old, or older, with more comfortable, convenient, and eco-friendly vehicles.

The modern design is expected to look similar to a minibus, with seats that you can share with less people, giving you more comfort.

Modernized jeepney passing by Cebu Business Park

An example of a modern jeepney traversing along Cebu Business Park.

The advantages of jeepney modernization also include the addition of an air conditioning unit, which will be a big help in beating the heat in the streets during your commute. There are even cashless payment options in some modern jeeps, like utilizing a card.

The inside of a modern jeepney.

When you ride in one of these new transports you will also feel more secure. They are equipped with security cameras in case an emergency happens inside. You can even enjoy local TV since most of these vehicles are equipped with a TV for the passengers to enjoy.

All these innovations, just like innovations in the past, could slowly turn into a new normal form of public transportation in the Philippines, bringing an end to the old-school passenger transport that Filipinos all know and love.

Time will only tell when the age of the modernized jeeps has come, turning the traditional jeepney into a thing of the past.

In 2020, there are still several of these machines traversing the long winding roads of Cebu. Only modernized ones, however, are currently allowed in the streets of Cebu City during the coronavirus pandemic. You can still ride traditional jeepneys in other cities like Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, and Talisay, but expect social distancing with the use of plastic covers installed inside the jeep.

The rise of PUV modernization might keep us from being able to experience a piece of Philippine history. Our older options will be replaced with a more convenient and comfortable form of transport. The legacy of these cultural icons, however, will always be seen as one of the best forms of transportation in the Philippines.

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