With the rising cost of diesel fuel in the country, even owners and operators of public utility vehicles are in a mad scramble for alternative fuel for them to go home with better earnings and so as not to pass the financial burden to the commuting public.
Already being pushed against the wall with the latest wave of oil price increases, PUV drivers are again threatening to stage another nationwide strike to press for a fare hike. Instead of protesting, other drivers and operators tend to think more strategically to evade a miserable life and live happily last Wednesday, GoLPG launched the “Happy Go Jeepney” and “PINOY Express Jeepney” projects to establish partnership with one of the biggest transport groups in converting their vehicles from diesel-fed to LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) powered units.
Cielo Fregil, president of GoLPG, led the ceremonial turnover of two LPG-powered jeepneys at the Quezon City Hall for jeepney operators who are members of the National Federation of Transport Cooperative. The pump price of LPG is 25 to 30 percent cheaper than diesel which now makes jeepney drivers and operators think about shifting.
Unlike the previous experimental passenger jeepney that was mounted a new LPG kit but relied on an old, beaten up engine and transmission, the Happy Go Jeepney has brand new transmission and engine that ensures better reliability.
The previous passenger jeepney, which was subjected to reliability and profitability test by engineers from the University of the Philippines more than a year ago, failed because it was only “repowered.”
“In this light, the group decided to build a new kind of jeepney to eliminate the problems not connected with the engine itself,” Fregil said. The previous jeepney had an engine that was not only surplus, but also not tuned well with an old transmission and differentials that were mixed and match.
Zeroing at the main problem of present day jeepneys which is smoke-belching, Fregil is optimistic that the GoLPG monofuel engines will be more reliable, environment friendly and will yield more earnings for the drivers and operators. Smoke-belching violation drains P6,000 from the driver’s pocket.
With passenger load ranging from 18 to 24 heads per jeepney, the Happy Go Jeepney will not lose torque since they matched the engine with a gear and differential ratio for low speed, yet yields high torque that is a must for utility vehicles.
Operators of passenger jeepneys will likely drop their jaw once they learn that each brand new engine-transmission set is priced at P350,000. But Cielo assures that the price will likely go down once the operators will order in bulk. Presently, the minimum order is 300 units.
“We have tested the jeepney to go up the horseshoe drive and Antipolo with a full load of 27 passengers. It was able to go up in third gear,” Cielo related.
With lesser emission and with bigger take home earnings, the two Happy Go Jeepneys are ready to run on different routes in Metro Manila.
If proven reliable and efficient, the two jeepneys will soon join the more than 10,000 vehicles now roaming the metropolis. –Text & photo by ARIS R. ILAGAN/Manila Bulletin 21Sept 2012