E-bus for healthier mobility

By Herbert Vego

THERE is a cheaper but healthier alternative to gas-powered means of transportation that would soon be available to residents of Iloilo City.

This was the message we heard from Reynaldo “Rey” Nolasco Jr. when he guested on the “Tribuna sang Banwa” program on Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo last Sunday (12:15 to 1:15 p.m.)

Nolasco had been appointed “manager for e-bus” by Roel Z. Castro, president and chief executive officer of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power), the city’s power-distribution utility.

Indeed, there seems to be no limit to Sir Roel’s mind when it comes to stretching electricity to the max. It is his idea to extend power from homes to vehicles.

Castro recently accorded Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas the honor of being the first to ride the first e-bus arrival.

By now, most Ilonggos must have heard of MORE Power’s intention to field at least 10 units of electric bus (e-bus for short) to serve targeted commuters residing and/or working In Iloilo.

However, Nolasco clarified, “We are not really branching into the transport business. We will remain as an electricity distribution utility which would promote the e-bus as an efficient and clean transport system in Iloilo City and eventually in the entire Western Visayas.”

Would it be available for sale, or rent?

“Possibly” was the answer.

There are still no clear-cut guidelines on how this could materialize, pending coordination with government agencies, notably the (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFB).

Needless to say, an e-bus would need minimal maintenance because it has no motorized engine. It would run on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that would emit no pollution and almost zero noise.  A fully-charged battery (45 minutes at a fast-charging station) would allow the bus to travel 100 kilometers at a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour.

On the basis of cost efficiency, Nolasco said, an e-bus with a maximum of 30 passengers would only consume five pesos worth of electricity per kilometer.  Whereas, the traditional jeepney with lesser number of passengers would burn around 12 pesos worth of diesel per kilometer. Branded “Comet,” the buses – boasting of European technology but assembled in China for cheaper labor — would be supplied by Global Electric Transport (GET), which has been in the transport business in Manila since 2015.

But the idea behind is to provide shuttle service for members of exclusive and non-exclusive transport groups — akin to traditional school buses and ride pools.

Under this concept, for example, business process outsourcing (BPO) companies may facilitate the rides of their office employees and call center agents on time.

Commuters may pre-book their trips in such a way that they would be picked up in designated locations.

“It’s just like booking for an airplane flight,” Nolasco enthused.

It’s because it has an app-based management and payment platform, where a QR code would be good enough to get a ride.

“We are here with a mission to build a better world through a clean and healthy environment,” Nolasco quipped.

While waiting for the e-bus, kaon ta anay ibus, Sir Roel.



THIS corner has no doubt that a joint venture agreement between IGNITE Power and Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) would push through.

The latest word is that a thousand barangay officials from the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago and the municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto expressed support to the proposed partnership in a gathering at the West Negros University gymnasium.

Barangay Captain Deogracias Dela Vega of Bacolod City expressed confidence that the partnership would stop rampant power pilferages that have impoverished Ceneco, which has more than 200,000 customers.

The efficiency of MORE Power in Iloilo City has been cited as the prime reason behind such confidence. Like MORE Power, IGNITE will have Roel Castro as president and chief executive officer.

Castro assured the audience that he would do what he had done to MORE Power, where he had brought down the system’s loss in Iloilo City from 30 percent to 6.5 percent within three years.