Texting, e-Jeepneys, and Tacloban
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – No question about it: mobile phones have helped save lives, especially in this coastal city which was ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) more than 7 months ago.
But text messaging in Tacloban is useful not only for requesting relief goods or for posting disaster-related news updates. Now, it can also be used for transportation.
Late last May 4, volunteers of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) sent text messages to one another to measure and "help simulate" the number of commuters using jeeps in some terminals in Tacloban City, according to Noel Dimaano, Chief Operating Officer of the eJeepney Transport Corp. (EJTC).
Each volunteer covered one of the two terminals in the Downtown (Tacloban)-Robinsons' route. They recorded the plate numbers of 10 jeepneys from 6am to 6pm for 3 consecutive days.
EJTC, an affiliate of iCSC, also runs a fleet of eJeepneys in Makati City.
“They sent the data through text messages, which were verified by the other volunteers,” Dimaano said.
EJTC plans to introduce at least 7 e-Jeepneys into Tacloban City's public transport system, which was crippled by Yolanda in November 2013.
Once brought to Tacloban, the e-Jeepneys will cover the city's University Belt, a route that regular jeepneys serve only at the request of passengers.
EJTC executives, who flew in from Manila and stayed for nearly a week in Tacloban, also examined the e-Jeepney stops.
“As many as 35 e-Jeepney stops may be put up,” Dimaano said.
Data collected by the commuter study "will also underscore the possibility of jeepney operators entering into partnerships with EJTC," Dimaano added. "We hope many operators will come in so they can help decongest (Tacloban's) public transport system."
In late May, the iCSC broke ground on a new solar charging facility along P. Burgos St. in downtown Tacloban City. Aside from using solar panels, it will charge batteries of e-Jeepneys and, in the future, even host an Internet cafe.
The solar charging station and the e-Jeepneys form part of the iCSC's RE-Charge Tacloban, an initiative that will help create green jobs and attract more local investments. – Rappler.com