The province of Bataan officially joined the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) when MetroExpress Connect, Inc. (MCI) received the delivery of an initial 15 modernized PUVs from Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) during turnover ceremonies held at the parking grounds of Vista Mall Bataan along the Provincial Highway of the city. During the turnover, Land Transportation Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Region 3 Director Ahmed Cuizon said, “The government has been very forward-looking in the planning and implementation of the PUVMP. We are about to make history because what was once the historical jeepney will now be historically reinvented. And I am very happy to note that the modern PUVs you see here will become the new normal in the Philippine public transport system.” He added, “In the coming weeks and months, we will be opening new routes that will be catering to more passengers in Bataan.”
The 15 units ordered by MCI are all air-conditioned Class 2 modern PUVs that have been assembled using the Isuzu QKR77 platform with the rear body and side-facing seat configuration designed and manufactured by Almazora Motors Corporation. The Isuzu QKR platform is assembled in the Philippines and is powered by the Euro 4-compliant 4JH1-TC Diesel Engine that delivers excellent fuel economy. The PUV body is compliant with Philippine National Standards PNS 2126:2017 with the cabin providing more space for the passengers to move easily inside. The passenger door is safely situated on the right-hand side facing the sidewalk. Other design include panoramic windows and windshields, full-body insulation, and automatic door closer.
IPC’s Assistant Sales Division Head, Hiroto Nakaguro, explained that the Isuzu modern PUVs are “customized with various accessories such as WiFi, GPS, CCTV, LED displays and automatic fare collection system enabling cashless operations, all geared for the passengers’ safety and added convenience.” Nakaguro-san also conveyed IPC’s gratitude to the “growing number of transport groups, such as MCI, who trust the Isuzu brand and are confident that Isuzu will be able to help serve their mission to the community.” During the turnover ceremonies, Cuizon reminded transport groups, jeepney operators and drivers to fast-track the modernization of their own fleets. “They have to step up their modernization efforts between now and June 30, 2020. Otherwise, their franchises and routes will be given to those who can provide modernized PUVs to the riding public. In the seven provinces of Region 3, where Bataan belongs, we project up to 30,000 jeepneys need to be modernized by that time.”
Though no stranger to Isuzu’s modernized PUVs with its acquisition of several units in its Iloilo City route last July 2018, MCI’s Bataan franchise would see its first batch of Isuzu PUVs ply the route. With MCI steadily expanding its franchise routes beginning with Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite extending to as far as Tuguegarao and down south in Davao, its partnership with Isuzu is likewise seen to grow.