The Comet is an eJeep (electronic jeepney) created by Global Electric Transportation (GET) that travels from SM North EDSA to C.P Garcia (formerly Katipunan) Avenue. I was one of the few who looked forward to its launch since I know a lot of people who would benefit from it, making their daily commute easier and somewhat cheaper than having to transfer jeeps; but also since it takes a step forward into the possibility of creating a public utility vehicle which has lesser harms to our slowly deteriorating environment. I say step because electricity in the Philippines is still mostly from fossil fuel, and I’m not sure if they use that or solar cells or other renewable energy to charge the Comet; but because it also helps the environment via its design like having hydraulic breaks instead.
But as with all things, there are good sides and bad sides, unfortunately for me, my first time to ride a comet was a disaster.
I was exhausted from a whole day’s work, my feet were killing me, and I badly wanted to go home but I still had a business meet up in Katipunan area. Luckily I pass by SM North EDSA on my daily commute home, and I grabbed this opportunity to try the Comet. I had high hopes for it, being widely advertised in the news and all the hype that followed after its launch. It was all fine and dandy; it had comfortable seats, and followed a trip schedule regardless of whether or not it was full.
It was when we reached somewhere near Luzon Ave that things began to turn for the worse, as the Comet was making a turn, I felt a jolt and heard a noise, the type that feels and sounds like when you fail to insert a gear properly. I hoped, prayed, and wished to all my lucky stars that it was nothing, that I was wrong, and that it’s not broken. Alas to my dismay the Comet slowed down to a stop as the driver just scratched his head and tsked.
Unlike its mechanical counterpart, an ejeep’s systems is more complicated to tinker, so in cases of breakdown such as this, it needs a trained technician to oversee its repairs in addition to the right tools and components, one cannot simply do a quick fix. Another immediate assumption by bystanders is that maybe the Comet ran out of battery, and unlike vehicles running on fuel where you can just run to the nearest gas station to buy your specified fuel and then go back to refill your tank, in eJeeps you have to recharge the battery, which you need your charging equipment or an outlet for and it will take time.
And that was something I did not have the luxury to waste that day, not that we just waited for the Comet to charge because it really was jammed, but that we had to wait for the next Comet to arrive. Although the driver of the Comet that I originally boarded sent a text immediately after our ride broke, the next Comet still followed trip schedule so we had to wait for about 30 minutes or so, and we weren’t able to sit because it was already full. Contrary to how things work when you ride a regular jeep, when your ride is broken the driver stops another jeep so his passengers may transfer. Yes, I could’ve just found another way to get to my destination, but I didn’t really know how; and here enters another misfortune for the day, my phone battery died! The day ended with me tired and frustrated, because everything was in vain, I did not make my business meet up and our deal was broken.
So the main thing to ponder on [for those who are part of the management of Comet] is the improvement on procedures to follow in case of failure, the long run help to the environment? If they have made solutions to these then by all means, replace the old Jeeps (or idk, I love the cultural aspect of our jeeps).