The Philippine Star

One of our readers sent us his plan on how to tackle the country’s jeepney problem. Here is Raymond Tumao’s letter.

“I would like to share with you a research study I made in the past 40 years in the automotive world. Due to the limited article space, I shall only mention the summary and some salient points which I feel would be of help to the existing conditions in relation to the CARS [Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy] and the jeepney problem.

“In a nutshell, CARS started out as the PCMP [Progressive Car Manufacturing Program] during the Marcos regime. The objective at that time was to come up with our own motor vehicle model that should have been a popular model until today. 

“Unfortunately, the automaker giants were hesitant to assist in this plan because they would have been eased out if it became successful. Besides, these giants have them all figured out when their used trucks and used parts flooded our market in order to make our jeepneys survive and augment the commercial transport sector thrive. 

“This occurrence made a few auctioneers and dealers of used parts billionaires but caused the growth of our vehicle industry to become stagnant. As to why these giants opted to use Thailand as their manufacturing hub for the ASEAN region, the impending labor conflicts among the unions inside the plants made them decide to just retain the Philippines as just their dealers. 

“This is why the Board of Directors of these giants are fully controlled by their mother companies.


“Let me call my plan Caribou. I have been working on Caribou since 1993 and it was intended to replace the jeepneys with a more modern type of transport system. 

“The sudden stoppage of operation by the jeepney associations showed us that they could really cause an economic slowdown not to mention the traffic they cause when they operate without giving much attention to road rules. 

“And when they mentioned on TV that they just want to retain their only source of income, it occurred to me that it is high time I publicize Caribou. The pilot site of Caribou is the Sucat-Baclaran route in which all jeepneys will be retired and sent to the provinces and replaced by a caribus or a carivette with a ratio of one caribus to 2.5 jeepneys. 

“Caribou is designed to prioritize the plights of the existing jeepney operators and drivers because they will be the ones to run the new Caribou system. Besides, they are the reason why our transport systems could not be modernized.

Intelligent intermodal transport system

“And once Caribou is fully operational, slowly the old drivers will retire while new drivers shall be hired. To become a Caribou driver, there is not much training needed because the Caribou is an intelligent intermodal transport system which relies mostly on electronics.

“It encourages the riders to be disciplined instead of the drivers or operators. The ratio mentioned above is already considered a reduction of road space usage, and the management of passenger movement should make this plan effective and successful. 

“Revenues are not limited to the salaries and wages of the drivers but under a pro-rated incentive scheme, they will share in the total revenue of the consortium. Operators shall be given the first option to buy shares in the Caribou while income will be expected from advertisements and tourism.

“In the design of the caribus and the carivette, the idea is to import from China and reverse engineer a commercial vehicle model that is suitable to replace the jeepneys and the Mitsubishi L300 FBs. 

“Copying” Chinese-made vehicles is not illegal unless you copy a component or part that has a patent or trademark like an Aisin brand automatic transmission.  By the way, Chinese automakers do not make their own automatic transmission, which is why you do not see automatic transmissions in Chinese brand cars unless the engine is Japanese made. 

“In reverse engineering the Chinese vehicle, it is important that the purpose in doing so is to mass produce locally using similar components but with raw materials available in our country. 

“Our local parts manufacturers know what I am saying but it is easier said than done. To manufacture a part, the minimum order quantity or MOQ is very important, otherwise the business is not going to flourish. Take note: the flock of jeepneys is already considered the MOQ in that particular segment. 

“The continuous production and sales of the ‘80s Mitsubishi L300 just shows that it is one big MOQ to serve. So let us now proceed to the redesigning of the reverse engineered models. 

“Our objective should be to localize the unit in order to avoid import duties and make these units affordable and highly bankable. It is all a matter of cost reduction because the riders of the jeepneys have lasted a lifetime of sufferings in riding jeepneys.

“Any improvement in riding comfort, safety and appearance is a welcome not to mention the money saved for other expenses and the time saved for the family. 

“The expected jeepney replacement unit cost is P850,000. Electric vehicles or solar powered vehicles will not qualify as a replacement because we are still under the battery technology wherein time and savings-wise, it is still cheaper to use diesel engines. 

“When my plan to install small cable cars in Sucat or the Alabang Zapote road becomes more advantageous than the Caribou, at least other routes could follow suit and the Caribou team will be more than happy to share what we have worked for in the past 24 years. 

“And finally the question arises – what will be the government’s participation in Caribou? My answer is: please ensure that there will be no more strikes in our Caribou plants, and provide us with more tax incentives and not just a limited tax holiday period. 

“We know that the business taxes being paid in operating the jeepneys could be reduced to almost nil but you have to understand that savings in transport cost can increase business activities in all other businesses using transportation. That is then where you can generate more taxes, direct or indirect.”

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