From the most hated part of most citizens day, commuting could soon be everyone’s daily highlight. This is the goal of Hino Motors Philippines (HMP) with its participation in the government’s PUV Modernization Program.
Hino’s contender in this new and highly competitive segment is the Hino Jeepney AC, their take on the modern jeepney.
Based on Hino’s venerable 300 series chassis, it features a minibus body built specifically with passengers’ convenience and comfort in mind.
Hino’s modern jeepney is compatible with Class 2 standards of the PUV Modernization Program. It can be equipped with air-conditioning and fitted with side-facing seats. It can seat a total of 19 individuals seated and 7 standing. It measures 6000mm long, 1720mm wide and 2115mm tall.
The Euro 4-powered Hino Class II jeepneys have a seating capacity of 23 with side-facing passenger seats resembling the conventional jeepney.
Propelling it is a 4.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that benefits from direct injection and is Euro4 emissions compliant. It produces 136 PS with 390 Nm of torque and is connected to a five-speed manual transmission. Both the front and rear axles come with semi-elliptical leaf springs and double-acting shock absorbers.
Getting onboard is done through a right side door, much safer than the conventional rear opening of a jeepney. If the seats are all occupied, there’s still enough room to stand inside with grab rails and handles all around. No crouching necessary as the vehicle has been designed with a high headroom, ideal for even tall Filipinos (5’8” to 5’10”). And for safety, security, and convenience, these PUVs are equipped with CCTV cameras, a Beep Card system, speed limiter, GPS, and a dashboard camera.
These are not just prototypes. Hino has already turned over its modern jeepney to cooperatives like the Pateros-Fort Bonifacio Transport Service and Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TSMC, 28 units), and Taguig Transport Service Cooperative (TSC, 30 units).
Once deployed to their routes, the modern jeepneys involve the assistance of a passenger assistance officer (PAO) in place of the Beep Card system. PAOs collect passengers’ fares and inform the driver when they are getting off.
Emerson Vizconte, a jeepney driver with the Pateros-Fort Bonifacio TSMC, noted the advantages of the modern jeepneys in comparison with old jeepneys. “Okay po ang performance nito. Bukod sa malamig ay maganda po siyang tumakbo at di pa ako nakararanas na masiraan, (The performance is good. Besides being called, it runs well and I haven’t encountered a breakdown.)” he said.
Jose, a driver with the Taguig TSC who has been driving jeepneys for 12 years, had some misgivings about switching to modern jeepneys. “Noong una, nag-alangan ako kasi baka masyadong iba itong modern jeepney doon sa nakasanayan ko. Pero noong nahawakan ko na ‘yong unit, okay naman pala. Mas magaan at mas komportable imaneho ang modern jeepney kaysa sa dating jeepney, (At first I was apprehensive, because this is far more modern than what I typically drive. When I drove it, it was great. It’s lighter and more comfortable to drive than a conventional jeepney.)” he shared.
In addition to better working conditions, the PUVMP aims to give operators and drivers benefits such as SSS, PhilHealth and accident insurance. The Pateros-Fort Bonifacio TSMC and Taguig TSC are also looking to supporting their drivers with fixed salaries to replace the boundary system.
Freddie Hernandez, chairman of the Taguig TSC, expressed his appreciation for Hino’s service. “Isa sa mga kinatutuwaan namin kay Hino ay kapag may problema at tinawag namin sila, nandiyan agad sila, nakaalalay. Ipinapakita nila na very supportive sila sa project. Nababaon kasi kami kapag tumitigil at hindi umiikot yung gulong ng jeep. Pero ngayon, dahil sa magandang assistance ng Hino, madaling naaayos ang mga problema at walang back time, (What we love about working with Hino is how easy they are to contact when there is a problem. We call, they come and show how supportive they are of th project. With an old jeepney, we get backlogged when one isn’t running. Now, with Hino and its assistance, we can quickly fix issues and suffer no down time.)” he said.
“The country’s transport system is long overdue for a real shakeup,” said Vicente Mills, Chairman of Hino Motors Philippines. “The Department of Transportation envisions a structured transport system that involves small, medium and large vehicles plying structured routes. The modern jeepney project is the first of the series of changes that DOTr wants to implement in the next few years. We at Hino hope to continue being a part of this endeavor in line with our mission of ensuring the welfare and safety of the Filipino riding public,” Mills added.
With positive feedback from its first clients, commuters can look forward to an improved riding experience and better driving conditions for drivers.
By the Manila Bulletin Drive team