History of the Jeepney
The jeepney is the most popular mode of transportation in the Philippines and well known for its artful decoration and crowded seating arrangement. Historians believe that the word jeepney is a portmanteau or blending of the two words “jeep” and “jitney.” In addition, the word jeepney came from “jeep” and “knee” because of the crowded seating in which passengers must sit knee to knee with each other.
The jeepneys were originally made from the American military jeeps left over from the Second World War. After American troops left the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus military jeeps were sold or given to the local Filipinos. The people then stripped down the jeeps to accommodate several passengers, added metal roofs for shade, and
decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors and bright chrome hood ornaments.
Since then, jeepney drivers must have specialized licenses and franchises before they can operate a jeepney and they have regular routes to follow. The local offices of the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board or LTFRB fix the jeepney fares in every region in the Philippines.
The present jeepney fares range from six to seven pesos for the first four kilometers and an additional one to two pesos for every kilometer thereafter. A fare matrix usually displayed inside the jeepney serves as a fare guide for passengers.
Jeepneys in Cebu
In the province of Cebu, the majority of the jeepneys built came from secondhand Japanese-made trucks originally intended for hauling cargo rather than passengers, which euphemistically gives them the name of “surplus” trucks.
In the province of Cebu, the jeepneys have a three-digit code displayed on top of the windshield to identify the routes they are plying. If you are not familiar with the route code, a signboard on the jeepney’s windshield shows the places or streets it will traverse.
It is also common for a jeepney to have a conductor who is either hanging on to the entrance or sitting inside. He collects the fares and gives out the change, yells out the routes where the jeepney is going, and urges the people to ride.
Majority of jeepney drivers follow traffic rules and regulations including the speed limits in roads. However, a few jeepney drivers would drive like they are in a race especially late at night when there are no more traffic enforcers. I experienced it myself twice of being in a jeepney traveling like the driver was cruising on a racetrack. I just prayed and held on for dear life when that happened.
Jeepneys in Cebu and other provinces in the Philippines come in different colors and sizes. It has become a treat for tourists visiting the country to ride the jeepney because it is a symbol of Filipino culture and identity.