In line with the government’s plan to replace older, smoke-belching jeepneys with fuel-efficient vehicles, the Philippines’ Transport Department yesterday unveiled a modernized version of the local icon — the problem is, netizens say, it’s flat-out ugly.
The Department of Transport (DOTr) showcased a new, modified 12-seater Toyota Hilux pickup that it said was the Japanese auto company’s entry into the government’s ambitious Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), a plan that began last year and has been widely criticized by activists and transport groups.
The PUVMP called for jeepney owners to replace their old vehicles by July 2020 with those that comply with government emissions standards. Drivers and operators have insisted that they can’t afford the proposed replacement vehicles, each of which costs up to PHP1.9 million (US$38,000). A nationwide transport strike was staged in September, but the government insisted that they were not fazed by the protests.
That explains why the DOTr’s social media accounts yesterday touted the less-than-visually appealing Toyota Hilux prototype as a cheaper alternative, priced at just PHP998,000 (US$19,700) — still expensive for most jeepney owners. Aside from being ugly and expensive, the vehicle can only fit 12 people, while a regular jeepney can seat an average of 20.
As expected, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade defended the vehicle’s small size, saying that it’s meant to service inner cities and provinces with smaller roads than Metro Manila.
He also said there will be roomier vehicles that will also be released. Class 1, which the Hilux falls under, can sit up to 12 people while Classes 2 and 3 can accommodate up to 23. Class 2 vehicles will be laid out like a jeepney with passengers facing each other, while Class 3 will have front-facing seats.
He said that the Toyota Hilux prototype will have dashboard cameras, CCTV, Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and an automatic fare collection system. Tugade promised that it would be easy for people with disabilities to board and exit the vehicle, and that drivers would have ample legroom.
Netizens, however, were deeply unimpressed, and have been trolling the DOTr’s post to express their extreme dislike of the vehicle. Some have pointed out that disabled people will have a hard time getting in and out of the single-door vehicle while others went as far as to say that it looked like a vehicle for transferring convicts to prison.
Netizen Melanie Anne Ursua pointed out, “Please don’t waste tax payer’s [sic] money on this. Also fire the designer, it is very impractical, not modern, and just plain UGLY. I smell a DOT employee with a Toyota side deal somewhere.”
Others have pointed out that the Department of Energy-led e-trikes or electric tricycles are far better than the “fugly” Toyota.
What do you think about this “modern PUV”? Leave us a comment or tweet us @CoconutsManila.
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