TACLOBAN — No question about it: mobile phones have helped save lives, especially in this coastal city which was decimated by typhoon Yolanda more than seven months ago.
But nowadays, text messaging in Tacloban doesn’t just involve requesting relief goods, posting disaster-related news updates, nor, for that matter, asking generous friends for cellphone credits.
Late last May, four volunteers of the Institute of Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) sent text messages to one another to measure and “help simulate” the number of commuters using jeeps in some Tacloban City terminals, according to Noel Dimaano, chief operating officer of the eJeepney Transport Corp. (EJTC).
An affiliate of the ICSC, the EJTC also runs a fleet of eJeepneys in Makati City, the country’s premier business district.
Each volunteer covered one of two terminals on the Downtown (Tacloban)-Robinsons’ route, recording plate numbers of ten jeepneys from six in the morning until six in the evening for three whole days — Thursday, Friday, and Monday.
They then sent this data via text messaging, which were verified by the other volunteers during the same day, Dimaano said.
The data will be useful for the EJTC which plans to introduce at least seven eJeepneys into Tacloban City’s public transport system, which was crippled by Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons on record.
Upon examination, these will help determine the viability of running eJeepneys in Tacloban, Dimaano said.
The same data will be used to “validate” earlier data collected by a similar survey in February that was also undertaken by the ICSC, Dimaano added.
The EJTC executive, who flew in from Manila and stayed for nearly a week in Tacloban, also drove around the city to and from Alpha Bakery in downtown Tacloban and Robinsons’ in Marasbaras to examine eJeepney stops that he himself identified.
As many as 35 eJeepney stops may be put up, Dimaano said, adding that the estimate is nearly double his earlier projection of 19 stops.
However, whatever data may be gathered by the new survey, the numbers generated may arguably be a foregone conclusion. After all, the ICSC has placed their bets on making Tacloban build back better.
In late May, the ICSC broke ground on a new solar charging facility along P. Burgos St. in downtown Tacloban City. Besides being fitted with solar panels, it will charge batteries of eJeepneys and, in the future, even host an Internet cafe in the same facility.
The solar charging station and the eJeepneys form part of the ICSC’s RE-Charge Tacloban, an initiative that will help create green jobs and attract more local investments.
Data collected by the commuter study “will also underscore the possibility of jeepney operators entering into partnerships with EJTC,” Dimaano said. “We hope many operators will come in so they can help decongest [Tacloban’s] public transport system.”
Editor’s Note: This article is re-posted from Newsbytes.