Commuting in the Philippines can be a drag, especially when so many buses and jeepneys are not just old, but unsafe. Cebuanos, however, will hopefully find traveling just a bit easier today with the launch of new air-conditioned bus-jeeps (aka “beeps”) that come equipped with — wait for it — free Wi-Fi.
For its two-week dry run, passengers can ride the beeps to the following routes in Cebu City free of charge: Talamban-Ayala-Colon, Lahug-Ayala-SM, and Bulatao-Colon-SM. Then, when its regular run begins on Oct. 1, fares will be collected from passengers through a card system starting at PHP10 (US$.20), according to ABS-CBN News.
This initiative was led by the Cebu Multi-Purpose Cooperative and is in line with the national government’s goal of removing the iconic but pollution-causing jeepneys with modern public vehicles by 2020.
Macario Quevedo, the cooperative’s chief executive, said the vehicles comply with emission standards set by the government for modernization.
Each beep costs up to PHP1.9million (US$38,000) and can accommodate up to 35 passengers. Aside from Wi-Fi, they also have a standard closed-circuit-television camera (CCTV), a global positioning system (GPS), a speed limiter, and a camera on the vehicle’s dash, reported Rappler.
Quevedo said that in addition to the initial 15 beeps, more will be added to the fleet as soon as the government approves the franchises. He adds that two local banks are projected to assist with loans when it comes to purchasing additional units.
But not everyone is happy with the arrival of the (relatively) posh-looking beeps. At least 150 jeepney and motorcycle drivers (both habal-habal and tricycles) are expected to greet the launch with a strike this Monday and Tuesday.
Alfred Cuizon, Land Transportation Franchise Regulatory Board Region 7 Director told Rappler the city has prepared for the protests’ impact.
“I don’t believe that the protest action will cripple Cebu’s transport system, but, just the same, we have to make preparations,” he said, without offering much in the way of detail.
Pushback on the jeepney modernization program has been occurring since as early as last year, with drivers and operators insisting they can’t afford the expensive modernized vehicles.