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Manufacturer A.Borja, Armak, Celestial, F.G., Hayag, Hataw, Hebron, LGS, Lippad, Morales Motors, Nelson, Rogans Motors, Sarao Motors
Production post World War II 1945 - present
Assembly Philippines
Designer Leonardo Sarao[1]
Body and chassis
Class Minivan, Minibus, Jeep
Body style Multi-purpose vehicle
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Related Jeep
Engine 2.0L Isuzu C190
2.2L Isuzu C220
2.4L Isuzu C240
2.8L Isuzu 4BA1
3.3L Isuzu 4BC1
3.3L Isuzu 4BC2
3.6L Isuzu 4BE1
4.3L Isuzu 4BG1
2.7L Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation 4DR5
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation 4D30
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation 4D32
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation 4D33
Transmission 4 speed Manual transmission
5 speed Manual transmission
6 speed Manual transmission

Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines.[2] They are known for their crowded seating and flamboyant decorations, which have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art.[3] A Sarao jeepney was exhibited at the Philippine pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair as a national image for the Filipinos.[4][1]

Jeepneys were originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II.[5] The word jeepney came from the combination of the words "jeep" and "jitney", a small bus that carries passengers on a regular route with flexible schedule.[6][7] While most are used as public utility vehicles, jeepneys used as personal vehicles have their rear doors attached with "For family use" or "Private" sign painted on them to alert commuters. Jeepneys are used less often for commercial or institutional use.


When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to the Filipinos. The jeeps were stripped down and altered by the locals; metal roofs were added for shade; and they decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors with chrome-plated ornaments on the sides and hood. They reconfigured the back seat into two long parallel benches with passengers facing each other to accommodate more passengers. Its size, length and passenger capacity had increased as it evolved though the years.[8] These were classified as passenger-type jeeps. The non-extended, original-seat configuration jeeps were labeled owners, short for owner-type jeeps, and are used non-commercially. The original jeepneys were refurbished military jeeps by Willys and Ford. Modern jeepneys are now produced with surplus engines and parts coming from Japan.

The jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to re-establish inexpensive public transportation, which had been virtually destroyed during World War II. Recognizing the widespread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to regulate their use. Drivers now must have specialized licenses, regular routes, and reasonably fixed fares.


The brand name that has actually come to mean jeepney is Sarao, the company that first started making them in 1953 and became famous worldwide for doing so. Before the growth of backyard builders, Sarao Motors and Francisco Motors—both in Las Piñas—were the largest manufacturers of jeepneys. Sarao Jeepneys alone reached a number of 7:1 in Philippine roads during the 1970s. Today, Sarao Motors is still in business but has downsized its operations, while Francisco Motors has since ceased producing jeepneys.[1][9] Sarao Motors, Inc. was established by Leonardo S. Sarao of Imus, Cavite who borrowed P700 to start his own jeepney assembly shop. Because of his contributions to jeepney manufacturing assembly and designs—and for popularizing the jeepney as an established economic industry in the country—Leonardo Sarao received the Ten Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) award for entrepreneurship in 1991.[10]

Other current independently owned small jeepney workshops and factories include Tandenrich Motors (Nagcarlan, Laguna), Armak Motors (San Pablo, Laguna), Celestial Motors (San Pablo, Laguna), Hebron Motors, LGS Motors, Malagueña (Imus City), Mega (Lipa City), and Morales Motors (San Mateo, Rizal). Another manufacturer, PBJ Motors, manufactured jeepneys in Pampanga using techniques derived from Sarao Motors. Armak now sells remanufactured trucks and vehicles as an adjunct, alongside its jeepneys. The largest manufacturer of vintage-style army jeepneys is MD Juan.

There are two classes of jeepney builders in the Philippines.[2] The backyard builders produce 1–5 vehicles a month, source their die-stamped pieces from one of the larger manufacturers, and work with used engines and chassis from salvage yards (usually the Isuzu 4BA1, 4BC2, 4BE1 series diesel engines or the Mitsubishi Fuso 4D30 diesel engines). The second type is the large volume manufacturer. They have two subgroups: the PUJ, or "public utility jeep", and the large volume metal-stamping companies that supply parts as well as complete vehicles.

Regional manufacturers and variation in design

In the central island of Cebu, the bulk of jeepneys are built from second-hand Japanese trucks, originally intended for cargo. These are euphemistically known as "surplus" trucks. Popular jeepney manufacturers in Cebu are Chariot and RDAK, known for its "flat-nosed" jeepneys made from surplus Suzuki minivans and Isuzu Elf trucks, which are no longer in use in Japan. These are equipped with high-powered sound systems, racing themes, and are allegedly bigger and taller than those in Manila.

In Iloilo City, jeepneys called passad are known for being replicas of sedans or pickup trucks. The vehicles' body has a much lower profile which resembles more of a sedan chassis with an elongated body.

Nelson-type jeepneys are manufactured in Davao City and are known there as "uso-uso". The designs of these jeepneys are very different from the traditional style. These jeepneys feature modern front grille and body designs, lowered ride height, and industrial quality paint jobs. Newer models of Nelson type jeepneys feature chrome wheels, equipped with radial tubeless tires.

Many local manufacturers are moving to build modern-looking jeepneys such as Hummer lookalikes and oversized Toyota van-style passenger jeepneys with Toyota headlights, hoods and bumpers. Manufacturers in Nueva Ecija also started making jeepneys with fronts resembling AUVs like the Honda CR-V or the Toyota Tamaraw.

The future of jeepneys

Recently, the jeepney industry has faced threats to its survival in its current form. Most of the larger builders have gone bankrupt or have switched to manufacturing other products because of the economic situation, with the smaller builders, forced to go out of business. Jeepneys are now facing stiff competition against other transportation modes such as taxis, buses, rapid transits and other. Passenger jeepneys are also facing increasing restrictions and regulations for pollution control, as they increase traffic volume and consume lots of fuel. A recent study published in a Metro Manila newspaper compared the fuel use of a 16-passenger jeepney to a 54-passenger air-conditioned bus and found that the fuel consumption for both was the same. With major roads clogged by empty jeepneys seeking fares, there is pressure to remove them from the streets of Manila and other cities.

Recent evolution of jeepneys

Although several types of jeepneys have been produced, the jeepneys have only begun evolving recently, in response to environmental and economical concerns.

2nd-generation jeepneys

Fully assembled from refurbished engines, some also have air-conditioning units, most popularly in Makati City. Most of these jeepneys have radically expanded passenger capacities, and are flamboyant and noisy. Many jeeps from this generation are notorious for belching smoke and almost all run on diesel fuel.

3rd-generation jeepneys

These are jeepneys manufactured using new engine components. Many of these come with improved air-conditioning and closely resemble a minibus.

Future generations

The jeepney industry has evolved more quickly in the past 2 years than it has in the past 50 years. Newer jeepneys have the size almost of small bus and is equipped with state-of-the-art vehicle technology (brand-new engine and drivetrain) and Thermo-King brand air-conditioning intended for buses.

Local automobile parts manufacturers are now planning the production of electric jeepneys.[11] Electric jeepneys are being test-run in Makati. In response to calls for reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the rise in oil prices, a limited number of these have been deployed. A final plan to implement electric jeepneys is yet to be announced. Future jeepneys to be locally built will belong in this category.


The E-jeepney, short for electrical jeepney, was the brainchild of Green Renewable Independent Power Producers, Inc. or GRIPP in partnership with Robert Puckett, President of Solar Electric Company in the Philippines. These E-jeepneys or minibuses, under the support of Greenpeace started plying Manila / Makati City streets on July 1, 2008. Four E-jeeps were launched by Makati City mayor Jejomar Binay on 2007, with 2 prototypes from Guangzhou, China at P 371,280 each. There are also 10 units of E-jeepney plying various routes in Iloilo City operated by the city government servicing students and city's senior citizens during weekdays for free. "The first public transport system of its kind in South-East Asia", the vehicles can be charged by plugging into an electric socket, using power from biodegradable waste.[12] E-jeepneys would also soon begin commercial operations in Puerto Princesa, Bacolod and Baguio. The two new E-jeeps were made by the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP), while the first four units were made in China. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board classified and registered them as low-speed vehicles (LSVs) or four-wheeled motor vehicles that use alternative fuel such as electricity and running at a maximum speed of 40 km per hour. The E-jeepney carries 17 passengers and can run 120 km on an 8-hour charge from an electric outlet.[13][14]

The E-jeepneys are locally fabricated and assembled in the Philippines by PhUV Inc., the business arm of the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP). It is equipped with either a 5 kW, 72-volt electric motor or a 7 kW, 84-volt one, either with or without transmission, with front end (hood and fender) or none, side or rear entry and front-facing or center-facing rear seats. It is the first electric vehicle granted an orange license plate by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to operate on Philippine roads.

Since its launch in July 2008, E-jeepneys are used by schools, resorts, theme parks, industrial zones, local government units and other entities such as the Makati LGU, De La Salle Dasmariñas in Cavite, De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde, Plantation Bay in Cebu, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Embarcadero in Bicol, Hacienda San Benito in Lipa City, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in Quezon City, the House of Representatives (Congress), the Ilocos Sur provincial government, and soon, the Pasig City LGU.

The biggest mass application of the E-jeepney in the whole of Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC). A third route, the Rockwell loop, will soon be implemented. Under the CFC program, the E-jeepneys are one of three major components of the program. The other two are a renewable energy plant (a biodigester using biodegradable household wastes) and a terminal/charging station for E-jeepneys. Both of these, the Makati and Puerto Princesa LGUs have invested in to complete the "green" loop.

Practices, etiquette, and parlance

Jeepneys can be found at designated jeepney stands with dispatcher/barker present usually calling out the destination to usher in passengers. The routes are painted on the sides and below the windshield of the vehicles.[15] They are often manned by two people, the driver and the conductor (also informally called the "backride").[16] If available, the conductor manages passengers and takes care of fare collection.[17] In most vehicles, however, only the driver is present, and passengers have to ask the adjacent passengers to pass on the fare to the driver. The driver in this case, relies on the honesty of the passengers in paying their fare.[8]

Jeepneys can be flagged down much like taxis by holding out or waving an arm at the approaching vehicle. Because of the proximity of the passengers in jeepneys, a certain etiquette is followed.[15] Jostling and shoving passengers is considered rude; talking loudly and boisterous behavior is discouraged.[17] Children are sometimes allowed to ride for free if they agree to sit on the lap of the accompanying adult and not take up seating space. The elderly and women are offered seats first if the jeepney is full as male passengers could sometimes cling outside or sit on the roof instead (referred to colloquially as sabit in Tagalog and kabit or kapyot in Cebuano; both meaning "to hang on with your fingertips"). This practice is dangerous and illegal.[4]

To ask the driver to stop the vehicle, passengers can rap their knuckles on the roof of the jeepney, rap a coin on a metal handrail, or simply tell the driver to stop. The usual parlance for asking a driver to stop is para, from Spanish word for 'stop', a word rarely used outside of this context.[18] Another alternative is to say Sa tabi lang po, meaning "(Please pull over) to the side (of the curb)". It is also preferred that the passengers call out the words rather than knock, as evidenced in the common admonition painted on some jeepneys: Ang katok, sa pinto; ang sutsot, sa aso; ang "para", sa tao (Knocking is for doors; whistling is for dogs; para for humans).[4] Modern jeepney owners often install buzzers operated by buttons or by pushing down a cable or string that run the length of jeepney's ceiling to alert the driver to stop, making it easier for the passengers.[8]

Pros and cons of jeepneys

The jeepney is the cheapest way to commute in the Philippines. Because of its open rear door design, picking up and dropping off is easy for both passengers and drivers, they can stop anywhere unlike buses. But also because of this convenience, some jeepney drivers are the source of traffic congestion by indiscriminately loading and unloading passengers in the middle of the street, blocking traffic and risking the safety of some passengers. They are notorious for engaging in unfair practices such as jostling over passengers, blocking other jeepneys to get passengers in the middle of the lane and trip-cutting (not completing the route, dropping off passengers if there are less than three to return to the jeepney stand and wait for a new set of passengers as it is not profitable for them to continue the route). Hence, some people are requesting that this mode of transportation be phased out, which is also blamed as a major source of air pollution in cities.[19][20]

Popular culture

  • When American TV show The Amazing Race 5 came to the Philippines in 2004, a segment of jeepney manufacturing was one of the task involved in Leg 11 of the reality show. The episode, which was broadcast the same year, was shot at the Malagueña Motors factory in Cavite.[21]
  • A BBC television program in 2011 called Toughest Place to Be a Bus Driver, a London bus driver goes to Manila and had to experience driving a jeepney around the busy streets of city.[22]
  • A jeepney was also featured in the car chase scene in the 2012 film The Bourne Legacy.
  • The movie Limang Dipang Tao of Eseng Cruz for Film Development Council of the Philippines featured the classic jeepney design of Sarao Motors.

See also


External links

  • Riding a Jeepney 101

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