How Ateneo's e-jeeps revolutionized in-campus commutes

MANILA, Philippines - The Filipino’s daily commute to work isn’t easy. But implementing a quick and easy method of transportation inside the organization grounds would mean one less hassle for your employees.

Take the Ateneo de Manila University e-jeep, which is a quintessential part of daily life inside the university. And not just for the students — it’s also helpful for those who have difficulty walking long distances in campus, such as elderly or disabled staff and visitors.

Ateneans previously used gasoline tricycles and shuttles to navigate the compound, but with the aim to establish a more environment-friendly alternative, Meralco began operating Ateneo’s in-campus e-jeep — revolutionary for being the first complete e-transport ecosystem to be introduced in schools — in October 2014.

“Any institution, such as a campus, has a footprint. Our goal is to assess that footprint and to actually reduce it. We just need to reconfigure the way we produce energy, the way we move people, and goods and services,” says Ateneo de Manila University president Fr. Jett Villarin.

So how does the e-jeep work? And how does it contribute to sustainability?

The e-jeeps are operated and maintained entirely by Meralco subsidiary eSakay — the drivers, the six vehicles running around campus, and the four-bay charging stations.

According to the Meralco EV project manager, Tonichi Agoncillo, e-jeeps are easier to operate than gasoline-run ones. E-jeeps have only four major components: the chassis, battery, controller, and motor. In contrast, a conventional jeep would run using a hundred to a thousand different parts.

Its batteries are charged everyday — at night when there are no classes, and when there are lulls in operations — to ensure students, staff, and visitors can hop on the e-jeep whenever needed. After a full charge, each vehicle runs from 60-100 kilometers, depending on the weather, passenger load, and slope of the road.

They’re also more cost-efficient. The e-jeep is 50-70% cheaper to operate than conventional jeepneys. A regular jeepney would cost 6-7 pesos to operate per kilometer, whereas an e-jeep just costs 2-3 pesos.

Electric vehicles are generally more sustainable than gas-operated ones, thanks to zero emissions, as well as reduced need for maintenance.

With all this, e-jeeps are an ideal alternative.

Thinking of adopting the system for your own company? Keep in mind that it won’t be easy if you’re planning to do so independently. You need expertise in managing and operating those vehicles, and oftentimes, you won’t be able to get customer support from the merchant who sold the vehicle anymore.

“Because it’s a managed service, we ensure that the vehicles are running safely, 24/7 if needed. That’s basically what they’re paying for, having no headaches anymore in terms of worrying about operations,” says Agoncillo.

Powering ideas that come to life

Aside from e-vehicles, Meralco, through its Power Ideas program, presents a host of innovations and energy solutions like managed services, solar panel installation, light retrofitting, and energy audits.

“Power Ideas is basically our way of educating our customers about new innovations, testing different products, and implementing these innovations and products within customer premises. The electric jeepney is a very basic example of a product we have tested and proven as reliable and eco-friendly,” says Agoncillo.

“I’m very happy with the Meralco EV services. You can see that from the usage of the shuttles. It’s also a very meaningful symbol. I hope to work more with Meralco on these new possibilities,” adds Villarin.

By thinking outside the box of conventional energy solutions, Meralco aims to promote sustainable and energy-efficient energy solutions through Power Ideas. They also recognize the need to shift to green and renewable resources.

Got an idea in your head? Pave the way for innovative solutions not just for your company and employees, but for the environment. Envisioning a better way to do things is just the first step. - Rappler.com