Senator Mar Roxas, chair of the Committee on Trade and Commerce, said that operators of public utility vehicles (PUV) should consider using alternative gas like LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) instead of the usual diesel and gasoline to save on operation expenses and help bring down the cost of transportation in the country.
“PUV operators and commuters will stand to benefit should alternative gas be used instead of the expensive diesel and gasoline,” Roxas explained. “We should learn from the experience of Japan where 90% of its taxis run on LPG which is less expensive and environment-friendly.”
Other countries like United Kingdom where the number of LPG-fuelled cars is expected to rise to nearly 100,000 by 2006, a four-fold leap from present figures are also contemplating on alternative gas as a means to address the rising cost of crude oil in the world market. In Metro Manila , around 200 taxis have already been converted to LPG.
“Countries all over the globe have been using LPG as transport fuel for the past decade,” Roxas disclosed. “Some major car manufacturers have introduced car models than run on autogas. Some major gasoline companies also introduced LPG transport fuel products to help motorists cope with the rising prices of oil, gasoline and diesel,” he added.
For taxis with an average daily consumption of 50 liters the estimated fuel cost is about P1,650 at P33/liter of diesel. Roxas estimated that by using LPG, taxi operators could reduced their daily fuel cost by as much as P450 or about P13,500 a month.
“The savings generated from this can be used to augment the daily expenses like food and education, and in the long run will also benefit the commuting public because of lower transportation cost,” he added.
According to recent studies, one kilogram of LPG is equal to the running power of two liters of gasoline, while 24 kilogram tank of LPG is equal to 48 liters worth of equivalent gasoline. LPG practically lowers the cost of fuel by about 20% or roughly P6-7 per liter. In effect, the fuel expense per liter of taxis and jeepneys if they use LPG is only P24 to a liter equivalent LPG to diesel. In short, motorists get two-fold power for their money.
Roxas is supporting this conversion in light of the recent declaration of the Supreme Court on the legality of the VAT law, which would be implemented on November 1, 2005. The VAT law would include imposing tax measures on fuel and power, increasing the costs of fuel and electricity.
Roxas noted that the Land Transportation and Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Department of Energy are supporting the use of LPG as fuel for jeepneys and taxis.
As for conversion costs, the conversion kit from gasoline to LPG would run between P6,000 to P45,000 depending on the type and model of the taxi. The Department of Energy recommends spending around P20,000 on conversion to cover all quarters due to its strict safety regulations on gas-LPG conversions.
For jeepneys, conversion cost is about P120,000. Since conversion from diesel to LPG is expensive, jeepney associations have made a collective effort to produce jeepneys with LPG engine prototypes.
“I have consulted banks and I am appealing to them to give access to taxi and jeepney operators and offer affordable loan packages, preferably with lower interest rates and longer repayment terms,” Roxas said. “It’s a good way to beef up revenues while at the same time assist the commuting public.”
In addition to lower cost, LPG is also environment-friendly. Studies made by a major gasoline company have shown engines that run on LPG discharges 30% to 35% less carbon monoxide than those that run on conventional fuels. LPG engines emit 99% less ultra-fine particles and oxides of nitrogen, emissions that are known to wreak havoc on the environment.