Jeepneys (Filipino: Dyipni), sometimes called simply jeeps (Filipino: dyip), are buses and the most popular means of public transportation ubiquitous in the Philippines.[3] They are known for their crowded seating and kitsch decorations, which have become a wide-spread symbol of Philippine culture and art.[4] A Sarao jeepney was exhibited at the Philippine pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair as a national image for the Filipinos.[2][5]

Jeepney in Legazpi City.JPG
  • Armak
  • Biga Motors
  • A. Borja
  • Celestial
  • Doctor Motors
  • EM Motors
  • F. G.
  • Hataw
  • Hayag
  • Hebron
  • LGS
  • Lippad
  • Malagueña Motors
  • Melford Motors
  • Marquez Motors
  • Morales Motors
  • Nelson
  • Obetski Motors
  • Rogans Motors
  • Sarao Motors
  • Skipper Motors
  • Tabing Motors
  • Tingloy Motors
DesignerLeonardo Sarao[2]
Body and chassis
ClassMinivan, Minibus, Jeep
Body styleMulti-purpose vehicle
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel drive

Jeepneys were originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II.[6] The word jeepney is likely a portmanteau word – a combination of "jeep" and "jitney", both words common slang in the popular vernacular of the era: "jitney" being a popular term for an American taxicab, and a "jeep" a newly coined term to describe a type of military vehicle (origin from General Purpose, or GP, hence Jeep).[2][7] Most jeepneys are used as public utility vehicles. Some are used as personal vehicles. Jeepneys are used less often for commercial or institutional use. Early short-body war-time versions of the jeepney were also known as auto calesa, commonly shortened to "AC".[8]


A 1943 Willys Jeep, the basis for the design of jeepneys
Early jeepneys in Quezon Blvd, Manila, Philippines (1949)

The earliest origin of the jeepney is from the Austin 7, which is also one of the precursors of the Jeep. These arrived in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II. It was modified to seat eight to ten people, greatly exceeding the normal passenger capacity of the Austin 7, though they were still shorter than later jeepneys. These early short-body versions were usually referred to as "auto calesas" ("AC" for short; named after the horse-drawn kalesa) or "baby buses".[8]

When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus Jeeps were sold or given to the Filipinos. An American soldier named Harry Stonehill was involved in the disposal of military surplus, and reportedly created a black market for the surplus including jeeps.[9] The Jeeps were stripped down and altered locally: metal roofs were added for shade; and the vehicles decorated in vibrant colours with chrome-plated ornaments on the sides and hood. The back part was reconfigured with two long parallel benches with passengers facing each other to accommodate more passengers.[a] The size, length and passenger capacity has increased as it evolved through the years.[10] These were classified as passenger-type jeeps. The non-extended, original-seat configuration jeeps were labeled owners, short for owner-type jeeps, and are used non-commercially. The original Jeepneys were refurbished military Jeeps by Willys and Ford. Modern jeepneys are now produced with engines and other parts from Japan or South Korea.

The Jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to re-establish inexpensive public transportation, much of which had been destroyed during World War II. Recognizing the widespread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to regulate their use. Drivers now must have special driver's licenses. Routes are regulated and prices are fixed fares. Illegal (unfranchised) operators are officially referred to as "colorum" operations, from the colour of the vehicle plate, which denotes a private rather than public registration.[11]

Jeepneys have been reported to be exported to Papua New Guinea to replace buses and vans that are too costly to import.[12][13] 4,000 jeepneys were exported to Papua New Guinea in 2004.[13]

Recently, the Jeepney industry has faced threats to its survival. Most of the larger builders have gone bankrupt or have switched to manufacturing other products, with the smaller builders forced to go out of business. Passenger jeepneys are also facing increasing restrictions and regulations for pollution control, as they consume much fuel.[b] A recent study[15] published in a Metro Manila newspaper compared the fuel use of a 16-passenger jeepney to a 54-passenger air-conditioned bus and found that the fuel consumption for both was the same.

The planned construction of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in Manila and Cebu might lead to the removal of jeepneys.[16][17][18]

Fleet modernizationEdit

In 2016, the Department of Transportation and Communications imposed an age limit on jeepneys of 15 years, with older jeepneys starting to be phased out.[19] Many jeepney operators oppose the phase-out, and George San Mateo, leader of the "No to Jeepney Phaseout" Coalition, called the modernization program "corrupt".[20] Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to drop its jeepney modernization program.[21] As part of the PUV modernization program all new and existing vehicles must be fitted with a tap card system which allows commuters to pay for their trip.[22] After multiple failed attempts at implementation and crippling technical issues surrounding the existing Beep Card many of the proposed systems were rejected by the Department of Transportation (DOTr). In 2018, Panta Transportation begun developing the Panta Transportation Network which utilises advanced RFID card technology in the form of Panta Cards. The cards enable value to be loaded onto the card, as well as allowing the journey details to be recorded and the appropriate fare deducted from the stored value on the card. It is designed so that passengers can tap on and off any services whenever they travel through the public transport network. The system received positive media coverage and reviews from jeepney operators calling the system "The future of transportation in the Philippines".[23] The Panta Transportation Network had then started to be recognised by Isuzu, Hino, and Star 8 to be installed on over 100,000 jeepneys by the end of 2019 with further plans to have completely rolled out the system on over 250,000 vehicles across Metro Manila by early 2020. Further talks with the DOTr have suggested that the Panta Transportation Network will work alongside other providers of contactless fare collection system for public transport services in the Philippines.[24]


A passad jeepney of Iloilo City.
A jeepney ready for decoration

Body designs of jeepneys vary by region. Some are plainly colored, while others can use massive variety. They either use sheet metal or stainless steel as body panels. Some jeepneys can be decorated with stickers or spray paint, with designs consisting of caricatures, illustrations or pictures inspired from popular culture, such as actors and actresses, cartoon, anime, comic, game, or movie characters, abstract designs and lines, religious icons and others.[25]

In the central island of Cebu, the bulk of jeepneys are built from second-hand Japanese trucks, originally intended for cargo. These are euphemistically known as "surplus trucks". Popular jeepney manufacturers in Cebu are Chariot and RDAK, known for its "flat-nosed" jeepneys made from surplus Suzuki minivans and Isuzu Elf trucks, which are no longer in use in Japan owing to road tax and obsolescence in their country of origin. These are equipped with high-powered sound systems, racing themes, and are said to be bigger and taller than those in Manila.

Nelson-type jeepneys are manufactured in Davao City and are known there as "uso-uso". The designs of these jeepneys are very different from the traditional style. These jeepneys feature modern front grille and body designs, lowered ride height, and industrial quality paint jobs. Newer models of Nelson-type jeepneys feature chrome wheels, equipped with radial tubeless tires. They are almost always equipped with a powerful stereo system, so they are often referred to as "mobile discos."

Many manufacturers are moving to build modern-looking jeepneys such as Hummer lookalikes and oversized van-style passenger jeepneys with headlights, hoods, bumpers and other components salvaged from AUVs and sport utility vehicles like the Honda CR-V or the Toyota Tamaraw. In Iloilo City, jeepneys called passad are known for bearing a resemblance to sedans or pickup trucks, with the front fascia taken off an existing SUV or AUV. The vehicle's body has a much lower profile which resembles more of a sedan chassis with an elongated body.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region, especially in Baguio City and Benguet province, they have jeeps fitted with truck wheels, or jeeps based from a truck platform, frame and engine. The same goes in other parts of the Philippines with unpaved roads.

2nd-generation jeepneysEdit

The interior of a second-generation jeepney

Fully assembled with refurbished engines, some also have air-conditioning units, most popularly in Makati City. Most of these jeepneys have radically expanded passenger capacities, and are flamboyant and noisy. Many jeeps from this generation are notorious for belching smoke and almost all run on diesel fuel.

Passenger jeepneys from this generation and beyond may employ tailgates especially if they traverse expressways. These are usually rigged mechanically to be controlled from the driver side in lieu of electronic locking systems.

3rd-generation jeepneysEdit

A Mitsubishi L300 FB, a chassis-cab van with similar sitting arrangement to that of a Jeepney.

Two kinds of 3rd-generation jeepneys has surfaced over the years: Modernized jeepneys and the truck and van-based jeepneys.

Modernized jeepneys are manufactured using new engine components and are built with air-conditioning, particularly with recent Euro 4 engine standards imposed in the country. Though some keep the traditional body of the contemporary jeepney, many of these closely resemble a minibus. Their doors may be situated at the back as a tailgate, or at the front, with doors functioning like that of an actual bus.

Cab/Chassis variants of jeepneys are actually based on pick-up trucks and van platforms wherein local coach builders assemble rear bodies for passenger and cargo hauling purposes.

Early examples of the modern-type of jeepney was the Toyota Tamaraw, Ford Fiera, and the Mitsubishi Cimmaron (spiritual predecessor of the Mitsubishi L300 in the PH Market; predates the Tamaraw and Fiera by a whole decade, introduced as far back as 1961) which had parallel benches offered standard by their respective manufacturers. They were introduced back in 1970's and was an alternative to the ageing Jeepney[26]. Modern examples include the pick-up based Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi L200 (commercial variant of the Mitsubishi Strada in the Philippines) to the van-based Hyundai H100, Mitsubishi L300, Kia K-2500 Karga, Isuzu Traviz and even truck based Mitsubishi Fuso Canter and Isuzu N-Series to name a few.

Although they are more seen as a commercial van rather than an actual Jeepney, they are popularly used as a school bus, delivery vehicles, and other modes of public transportation, mainly UV Express, though used sparingly in comparison to actual commercial vans such as the Toyota HiAce.

"Modern" jeepneysEdit

A prototype of a modernized jeepney made by Isuzu Motors.

An updated 3rd-generation jeepneys but with additional regulatory standards, such as standard seating, expanded vehicle height, CCTV, fare collection system (traditional, Panta and/or Beep), speed limiters, GPS and WiFi. Many brand new jeeps built in this generation are usually issued to transport cooperatives and are usually manufactured by major vehicle manufacturers, though backyard builds of such modern jeepneys have been proposed and/or are in existence. However, they will have to adhere to standards as mentioned.[27]

Many of the modern jeepneys inherit the design and aesthetics of a truck van (such as having a hoodless front, due to their industrially manufactured nature) and less of the traditional jeep, making their aesthetics look more of a bus.


Local automobile parts manufacturers are now planning the production of electric jeepneys.[28][29] Electric jeepneys are now widely deployed in several parts of Metro Manila and in some provinces, either as a staple transportation that completely replaces conventional jeepneys or as service vehicle. The deployments were in response to calls for reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the fluctuations in oil prices. These E-jeepneys will also be fitted with Panta Card reader as part of the transportation unification set out by the DOTr. E-jeepneys have come into economical question as the average cost per kwh electricity in the Philippines is unsustainable for owner operators. However, considering the uncertainty in diesel prices, E-jeepneys seems more economical in the long-run compared to diesel-fueled jeepneys.[30]

Pros and cons of jeepneysEdit

A jeepney in Intramuros, Manila

The jeepney is the cheapest way to commute in the Philippines. Because of its open rear door design, picking up and dropping off is easy for both passengers and drivers, they can stop anywhere unlike buses. But also because of this convenience, some jeepney drivers are a source of traffic congestion by indiscriminately loading and unloading passengers in the middle of the street, blocking traffic and risking the safety of some passengers[31]. Some drivers engage in practices such as jostling over passengers, blocking other jeepneys to get passengers in the middle of the lane and trip-cutting (not completing the route, dropping off passengers if there are less than three to return to the jeepney stand and wait for a new set of passengers as it is not profitable for them to continue the route). Hence, some people are requesting that this mode of transportation be phased out, which is also blamed as a major source of air pollution in cities.[32]

Jeepneys are often mechanically unsound, and not at all roadworthy, with their balding tyres, crabbing and yawing from distorted subframes, with poor emissions. Their longitudinal seating and lack of any seat-belts is less than safe. The low height of the saloon, and the extended roof above the driver, make visibility very poor.[33] The high step at the back and the restricted height make entry and exit difficult. In addition, they have little space for shopping bags.[34]

In response to the cons of the jeepneys, a massive modernization program has been launched that addresses the pitfalls that were long overdue for correction. Newly-manufactured jeepneys, such as e-jeepneys and modernized diesel jeepneys, are required to have at least a Euro 4-compliant engine or an electric engine and must contain safety features like speed limiters, accessibility features like ramps and seatbelts, closed-circuit television cameras, Wi-fi and USB ports, GPS, and a dashboard camera.[30] Motor manufacturers such as Toyota (and their truck subsidiary Hino), Mitsubishi (and their truck subsidiary Fuso), Isuzu, Hyundai, and even some Chinese truck brands such as Foton presented their own prototypes of the modernized jeepneys.[35]

In popular cultureEdit

  • When season 5 of the American reality TV show The Amazing Race came to the Philippines in 2004, a segment of jeepney manufacturing was one of the task involved in Leg 11 of the show. The episode, which was broadcast the same year, was shot at the Malagueña Motors factory in Cavite.
  • A BBC television program in 2011 called Toughest Place to be a … Bus Driver, a London bus driver goes to Manila and had to experience driving a jeepney around the busy streets of city.[36]
  • In honor of the 2019 Asia Challenge being hosted in Manila, Tamiya released a special edition Mini 4WD kit called the "Dyipne."[37]
  • In 2020, Hot Wheels released a new casting called the "Road Bandit", which is based on the Jeepney.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ In addition, when all seating capacity is used (perhaps 10 or 11 passengers each side) then up to three small wooden stools, euphemistically called 'extensions', are placed along the centre-line, with two passengers on each, sitting back to back.
  2. ^ A jeepney consumes about 30 litres of fuel per day.[14]


  1. ^ "History of the Philippine Jeepney". Tourism in the Philippines. Archived from the original on November 9, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Lifestyle Sarao Jeepney". The Philippines: The City of Las Piñas. Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  3. ^ Reuters 2007.
  4. ^ Stuart, Godofredo U. "The Philippine Jeepney: The Undisputed King of the Road". StuartXChange. The Philippines. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Mercado 1994.
  6. ^ Otsuka, Kikuchi & Hayami 1986.
  7. ^ "History of the Philippine Jeepney". April 12, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Chiu, Imes (2008). The Evolution from Horse to Automobile: A Comparative International Study. Cambria Press. pp. 224–229. ISBN 9781604975468.
  9. ^ "Harry Stonehill: enterprise helped him build a business empire, recklessness and lack of political finesse brought it all down". JULIUS C. WILLIS JR: Our World Today!. August 17, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  10. ^ Nicosia, Philip (July 31, 2007). "Unique Jeepney Experience". Great Offers4u. India. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  11. ^ "Local Legislators' Toolkit (page 154)" (PDF). Philippines-Canada Local Government Support Program (LGSP). 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 15, 2017. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  12. ^ "PNG eyes 'Jeepneys' for its transport". Gulf News. August 20, 2003. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Vanzi, Sol Jose (March 1, 2004). "The good news: RP exports jeepneys". News Flash. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  14. ^ Bulatlat 2005.
  15. ^ "Alternative Technologies for the Philippine Utility Jeepney" (PDF). Blacksmith Institute and Clean Air Asia Center. 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  16. ^ Philippine Daily Inquirer 2014.
  17. ^ Manila Bulletin 2014.
  18. ^ Sun Star Cebu 2013.
  19. ^ Periabras, Rosalie C. (August 5, 2015). "DOTC, PUJ operators tackle jeepney modernization". The Manila Times. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  20. ^ Badilla, Nielson S. (January 31, 2016). "Groups to protest jeepney phaseout". The Manila Times. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  21. ^ De Vera, Ellalyn (April 17, 2016). "LTFRB urged to shelve planned phaseout of traditional jeepneys". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  22. ^ "Can a 'tap card' payment system convince you to take jeepneys again?". Top Gear Philippines. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  23. ^ PH, Carmudi. "DOTr launches PUV Modernization Expo". Yahoo News.
  24. ^ "Panta Transportation". pantagroup.
  25. ^ Escalona, Katrina. "15 Crazy Colourful Jeepney Designs in The Philippines". Culture Trip.
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Check Out the Standard Dimensions and Features of the Modern Jeepney".
  28. ^ Manila Times 2008.
  29. ^ Lindsay, Greg (May 5, 2016). "Can The World's Worst Traffic Problem Be Solved?". Popular Mechanics. US. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  30. ^ a b Agaton, Casper Boongaling; Guno, Charmaine Samala; Villanueva, Resy Ordona; Villanueva, Riza Ordona (September 2019). "Diesel or Electric Jeepney? A Case Study of Transport Investment in the Philippines Using the Real Options Approach". World Electric Vehicle Journal. 10 (3): 51. doi:10.3390/wevj10030051.
  31. ^ "The Future of Jeepneys in the Philippines: Why it needs an upgrade". Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  32. ^ Philippine Daily Inquirer 2010.
  33. ^ Philippine Daily Inquirer 2008.
  34. ^ Philippine Daily Inquirer 2012.
  35. ^ "A Push To Modernize Philippine Transport Threatens The Beloved Jeepney".
  36. ^ "BBC Two Programmes – Toughest place to be a... Bus Driver". BBC UK.
  37. ^ "Tamiya has turned the iconic PH jeepney into a Mini 4WD".


  • Otsuka, Keijiro; Kikuchi, Masao; Hayami, Yujiro (January 1986). "Community and Market in Contract Choice: The Jeepney in the Philippines". Economic Development and Cultural Change. 34 (2): 279–298. doi:10.1086/451528. JSTOR 1153851.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External linksEdit