Pasig City, in partnership with Clean Air Asia and supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), has proved that challenges brought by the pandemic can be turned into opportunities to strengthen electromobility (e-mobility) programs.
“We want Pasiguenos to be more familiar with electric vehicles, and consider these for both personal and business mobility,” said Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto.
As part of its pandemic response, 20 electric bicycles (e-bikes) and 10 electric tricycles (e-trikes), donated by the UNEP and Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer TailG to the Philippine Postal Corporation, were lent to Pasig City to transport relief goods and household essentials at the height of pandemic in 2020.
Each EV was monitored through a GPS tracking device which recorded information on daily operations of the vehicles including location, speed, usage, battery, and vehicle operating status.
Based on the data provided from March to August 2020, these EVs racked up 2,880 trips with a total 8,349 km distance travelled. While a decline in the number of trips was recorded from April to August 2020 due to community quarantine restrictions, Pasig City repurposed these EVs to use as transport service for frontliners.
“UNEP is supporting global efforts to promote e-mobility and to integrate renewable energy into our transport systems. We hope that through this project, we can demonstrate the feasibility of integrating EVs into freight delivery system,” said Bert Fabian, Program Officer from UNEP.
The municipality also deployed e-trikes for the transport of chronically ill and dialysis patients, pregnant women, persons with disability, and persons afflicted with COVID-19 to quarantine facilities.
Further, these e-trikes were lent by the local government to different volunteer groups for their feeding programs for the homeless and families in need, community kitchens, as well as for the distribution of meals to COVID-19 patients and frontliners.
The EVs were also instrumental in the delivery of relief goods to the victims of Typhoon Ulysses, in November 2020, on the distribution of financial assistance to families that are eligible under the Social Amelioration Program during the community quarantines, and in the delivery of Christmas food packs to all Pasiguenos.
The use of EVs had long been a part of Pasig City’s advocacy even before the pandemic began.
Since 2014, Pasig City has been actively promoting the use of EVs as an alternative form of transport and contributing to the improvement of air quality through sustainable transportation. Through their “Kaalaman Tungkol sa E-Trike Replacement Program,” around 40 e-trikes and e-bikes were placed under lease-to-own arrangements with drivers who opted to use EVs instead of gasoline-fueled vehicles.
This initiative was further strengthened through the Tricycle Upgrading and E-trike Replacement Program in 2017, wherein the local government allotted a total of PHP 5M ($96,250) worth of financial assistance to tricycle operators and drivers who expressed their interest in switching to EVs for their daily operations.
In August 2021, Pasig City signed Executive Order No. PCG-63 which created a Steering Committee on Electric Mobility that is tasked with the planning and implementation of e-mobility programs in the local government and anchored on Clean Air Act of 1999.
The future of e-mobility in Pasig City
In its efforts to accelerate the transition to low-carbon mobility, Pasig City has continuously worked with UNEP through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) to integrate electric 2- and/or 3-wheelers into the urban transport system.
The city is also one of the pilot cities for the SOLUTIONSplus Project, funded by the European Commission, which involves the use of e-quadricycles and flexible electric vans as an alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles.
“E-mobility is one of the critical solutions to the reduction of air pollution. We are now trying to take the first step in that journey towards e-mobility, and so lower emissions and so more livable cities," said Bjarne Pedersen, Executive Director of Clean Air Asia.
“Clean Air Asia recognizes the role that e-mobility can play in transitioning to a low-carbon future and reducing air pollution in our cities. We are fortunate to have a city like Pasig commit to sustainable transport and electrification,” added Glynda Bathan-Baterina, Deputy Executive Director of Clean Air Asia.
As Pasig City continues to promote sustainable forms of transport, the local government hopes that the use of EVs will be accepted and adopted throughout the city. Concentrated efforts shall be done holistically, taking into consideration the establishment of charging infrastructure, creation of business models, development of supporting technologies, and the scale-up and replication of best use cases.