BIGGER pathways and improved accessibility for persons with disability (PWD) and senior citizens are among the considerations Isuzu Philippines Corp. will be incorporating in the design for its second prototype of modern public utility jeepneys (PUJ).
Matt Aguilar, Isuzu Philippines fleet sales supervisor, said that for now, what they have for display is Prototype One, which was designed based on the standards set by the national government.
Prototype One is equipped with a speed card, GPS system and a dash camera to ensure public safety. Its design is also similar to that of the usual buses to minimize vehicle blind spots.
Aguilar said the vehicle is environment-friendly since it is powered by a blue power diesel engine, meaning it provides cleaner emissions compared to existing PUJs.
Operators may also choose to install air conditioners in the vehicle or leave it as it is.
A model of Prototype One is currently displayed at Plaza Sugbo as part of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Central Visayas’ roadshow on the PUJ modernization program.
Spectators and PUJ operators flocked to the area yesterday to learn about the products and see the modernized vehicles themselves.
Although one operator raised concerns on Prototype One not being “friendly enough” for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly, Aguilar assured that special features are being designed for them in the next prototype.
“Prototype One is based on the standards set by the government. But Prototype Two will definitely have a bigger pathway and accessible ramp,” he said.
Oscar Umandap of Isuzu product planning said they will be adding two more prototypes this summer, which will be designed to cater to specific needs.
“We’re going to have a roadshow in April and you will see there the three Isuzu prototypes with different designs and equipment,” he said.
Sought for comment, PUJ operator Al Arcillo said he supports the modernization of PUJs, and that he is interested in buying from Isuzu.
However, he wants the national government to give operators more time to adjust to the changes since not all of them can afford the vehicle. An Isuzu modern PUJ costs at least P1.6 million.
“Not everyone can afford to switch to modernized jeepneys. If that happens, it’s not only the operators and drivers who will have a hard time, but also the riding public,” Arcillo said.
The 57-year-old has a fleet of 22 PUJs, most of which are already 20 years old. While he can readily afford to switch to a more advanced vehicle, he said he sympathizes with his fellow franchise owners.
Cooperatives composed of drivers, or operators with at least 10 PUJs can apply for a loan at the Development Bank of the Philippines to modernize their fleets.