Comet electric jeep debuts in Quezon City


660x370x26obamaThe jeepney, once touted as a symbol of Filipino ingenuity, is now an embodiment of our transportation woes. Inefficient, uncomfortable, and a source of pollution, the jeepney is ripe for replacement. One candidate for its successor is pollution-free commuter vehicle unveiled during the Manila visit of US President Barack Obama in April. The electric vehicle, touted as the earth-friendly successor of the gas-guzzling jeepney, will formally make its debut on Quezon City streets on Saturday.

For the next two weeks and for only P20, commuters can enjoy unlimited rides in the “Comet” or the City-Optimized Managed Electric Transport, whose operations went on a dry run Tuesday and will be officially launched at the SM North Edsa mall Saturday.

An initial fleet of 20 Comets will be rolled out to take passengers on a 22-kilometer route covering Mindanao Avenue, Congressional Road, Luzon Avenue, and Katipunan, according to Global Electric Transport (GET) Philippines, the Comet’s local distributor. End to end, the route will have 30 stops, with depots at SM North and LRT-Katipunan station.

With a 20-passenger capacity, the Comet relies on lithium ion batteries, which can be fully charged in five hours. It can travel up to 80 km on a full charge.

A first in the jeepney sector, Comet fares will be collected through a cash-less payment system using stored-value cards, called GET Passes, which passengers swipe on electronic readers on the shuttle when boarding and alighting.

The Comets will follow the current jeepney fare matrix since they are also regulated by the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

For the initial run, GET Philippines is offering unlimited rides for holders of P20 GET Passes until Oct. 9, according to the company’s media relations officer, Maria Ana Santos.

In one of the side events of his April 29 visit, Obama was presented the Comet just outside the Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel—where he had stayed overnight— and briefly boarded the zero-emission vehicle.

Its developers, led by former Taguig Representative and now GET Ltd. president Sigfrido Tinga, then cited Comet’s potential as the earth-friendly replacement of the old-fashioned, smoke-belching jeepney on Metro Manila’s roads.

Some 15,000 Comets were envisioned to take the place of 30,000 jeepneys in the metropolis over the next three years, they said. With report by Jaymee T. Gamil

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