MAKATI CITY, Philippines – Veterans of the daily commute to and from work know that air pollution and traffic are part of the whole routine. But one bus company hopes to change that by offering something never before seen on Philippine roads: a world-class city bus that runs on hybrid technology.
Green Frog Zero Emissions Transport (GFZET), established in 2010, will soon roll out the country’s first hybrid diesel-electric buses in Makati City. The initial route will run the entire stretch from Kalayaan Ave down to Sen Gil Puyat Ave (formerly Buendia Ave). The company plans to open up 3 more routes in the future.
According to GFZET managing director Philip Apostol, Green Frog buses are Euro-4 compliant and emit 80% less than a typical diesel bus would on the road. “Five of my buses would emit the same pollution as one normal bus,” he told Rappler. At the moment, the government only requires bus operators to follow the lower Euro-2 standard for emissions.
Many of these typical buses are imported second-hand and refurbished. And because the bus simultaneously uses its diesel and electric engines, it can go farther on the same amount of fuel. “If a typical bus will travel 1 kilometer, for the same amount of fuel, my bus will travel 2 or 2.5 kilometers,” Apostol said.
Green Frog buses are ahead of their time in many other aspects. They are modeled after buses that ply highly urbanized cities like Singapore and New York, with lowered floors to ease entry and exit. They also have 6 security cameras, a tap card system for cashless payments, fire extinguishers and a GPS tracker.
CASHLESS PAYMENT. Green Frog buses will utilize a tap card cashless payment system. A one way fare costs P12 and stored cards will be sold for P120. Photo courtesy of Green Frog’s Facebook page
The drivers of the buses, who just happen to be all women, will be paid a fixed salary and will pick up and drop off passengers only at designated bus stops. The GPS tracker will also help monitor speed to ensure drivers don’t over speed or clump together.
All these features add on to the total cost of the bus, but Apostol was insistent they be included. “This is my way of saying, ‘look we cannot think 1st world and act 3rd world. There’s a little pain, a little expense, but let’s do this.’”
HYBRID DRIVER. Green Frog’s Managing Director Philip Apostol hopes to put more hybrid busses on the road in Makati City. He is a former investment banker who lived in the US and Europe for 25 years. Photo by Rappler/Zak Yuson
Apostol, son of former Rep Sergio Apostol, is a retired investment banker who lived in the US and Europe for some 25 years before returning to the Philippines in 2007. He says he rarely drives a car, preferring instead to commute or take a taxi. He also shuns the use of air-conditioning, despite the intense heat of summer. Together with friends and investors, he set up Green Frog to address what he saw was a clear problem in the metropolis.
Green Frog is probably the first fully private enterprise to bring in hybrid buses without the help of government support. But that could change soon.
Both houses of Congress recently passed the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Incentives Bill. The law, if signed, will give tax breaks and other incentives to operators of AFVs. However, with only two session days left in the 15th Congress before it adjourns, both houses have yet to convene the bicameral conference committee that will reconcile the final bill for the President’s signature.
Garcia is optimistic that the President will be able to sign this law on time but Apostol is more cautious. He is already looking at another incentive package being offered by the Board of Investments. But until hybrid technology gets cheaper, traditional buses and jeepneys will continue to ply the roads of Metro Manila.
Ultimately, the decision on whether AFVs remain an exception rather than the norm lies with the commuters and the general public who must bear the burden of a polluted metropolis.
Green Frog and other like-minded groups are hoping to send a clear message to commuters: you now have a choice. – Rappler.com
Read the full article here: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/25200-greener-transport-offers-hope-metro-manila