The public enjoyed free e-shuttle rides for the first time on Friday.
The treat was part of the soft launch and route test for e-shuttles ahead of the the official launch today, September 27.
The route will be officially launched and the first real rides will be offered to paying passengers starting Sunday, September 28.
During the soft launch, three e-shuttles called COMETs (City Optimized Managed Electric Transport) plied the route, which started at the first electric shuttle terminal station in SM North EDSA mall in Quezon City
But tomorrow, 30 Comets will be on the road.
Commuters will just purchase their GET (Global Electric Transport) card, the blue and white plastic card that passengers load with credits in order to pay for a ride.
A reloadable card costs P20 ($0.45) and comes with a unique card number registered to the passenger.
The Comet boasts some key features never before seen in Philippine jeepneys. These include: cashless, tap-in, tap-out payment system; power from lithium ion batteries sealed in a waterproof case; set stops located 100 meters from each other along the route; GPS and Wifi connection for passengers and drivers to use; flat screen TV that flashes advertisements and news; CCTV camera that takes photos of passengers as they tap in their card and is supposed to be a deterrent against robbers; connection of the e-shuttle to a command center that communicates with the driver and manages e-shuttle congestion along the route; hydraulic wheels that can rise by one foot to enable the e-shuttle to drive through floods; and side entrance allowing passengers to board from sidewalks instead of having to go in between cars on the road and drivers are paid monthly salaries with other benefits.
Passengers had to wait the maximum waiting time of 15 minutes for the next COMET to arrive in the station.
In every stop, the COMET will wait 30 seconds and will leave even if there are no passengers on board. .
The cost of riding the entire route one-way is P13 ($0.29), with the first 4 kilometers ridden by a passenger costing only P8.50 ($0.19), just like the fare in traditional jeepneys. Every succeeding kilometer costs an additional P1.50 ($0.03).
Passengers can check their card’s balance online in the account created for them right after they buy a card.
When the card is out of credits, passengers can reload in various amounts from the terminal stations.
If they lose their card, they must report the loss through their online accounts within one day. The load in the lost card will then be transferred to the new card they buy.
The Comet is much larger than traditional jeepneys, giving passengers inside as much as 3 feet in head space. It is even possible to stand inside without hitting your head on the ceiling.
The ample space addresses not only comfort but gender-sensitive issues.
Windows, much larger than those in conventional jeepneys, let the air in and allows passengers to get a good grasp of where they are in the city, compared to the jeepney that requires passengers to turn their heads to see outside their small portion of the window. Unless the air pollution level in Metro Manila is lowered, the e-shuttle’s large windows will also bring in more smog.
The Comet is also much more quiet, moving through the city without the usual chug and engine-revving of typical jeepneys. Aside from contributing zero noise pollution, the battery-powered shuttles do not spew smog like gasoline-fuelled jeepneys.
The Comet ’s route saves students money who usually have to ride a jeep from SM North Edsa to the University of the Philippines Diliman campus and then take another jeep to Katipunan Avenue costing them P17.
With the Comet , they would only take one ride that goes all the way to Katipunan Avenue and which costs them just P13.
The convenient, comfortable features of the Comet may very well bump off old jeepneys from the road in the near future.