Thursday, 2 February 2012

Fixed Pay for Bus Drivers and Conductors

As of February 1, 2012, the Philippine government has mandated a fixed-pay salary for bus drivers and conductors, in a move to promote better working conditions for employees of the public transport industry.

"... the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued Department Order No. 118-12, series of 2012, which establishes the rules and regulations governing the employment and working conditions of drivers and conductors in the public utility bus transport industry."

I agree with the implementation of this system for the following reasons:

Better Financial Compensation
The public transportation system of the Philippines - as far as I am aware - has been working on the 'boundary' policy for the longest time. A driver needs to pay X amount to his employer at the end of his shift, regardless of how much he actually pulled during the day. For example, a driver may be given a PHP 2,000 boundary, to be given daily to his employer (the vehicle company/operator). This ignores the fact that the driver needs to buy fuel too, and maybe even pay for some maintenance of the vehicle. At the end of the day, a public transportation driver in this country sees an average of PHP 300.00 - PHP 500.00 as his net daily income. This is, according to drivers I've spoken with, a 'good' day. Now imagine if he was ill or unable to drive. A fixed-pay system that cannot go below the minimum wage ensures that the driver will always have some sort of financial stability that is independent of his health, weather conditions, and passenger availability on top of whatever commission he may receive from his efforts.

Risking life, limb, property, and public safety.

Better Public Safety
Since drivers will now have some 'bacon' to bring home on a regular basis (no matter how small the amount may be), I believe public transportation employees are far less likely to involve themselves in dangerous activities in order to 'make the boundary' as well as bring home a little bit for the family. I have personally taken late-night bus rides home, where drivers run red lights and take risky short-cuts in order to maximize the number of 'rounds' they can do. Pedestrians in the Philippines will attest to these buses madly speeding - even through pedestrian crossings! - in streets and highways. Perhaps this fixed-pay system could encourage drivers to drive at a more leisurely pace and increase awareness for safety not just for the public but for themselves as well.

Better Environmental Practice
While seemingly having no direct correlation to the Order, buses that move slower during trips and buses that are not operational for longer hours (since employees will not be trying to push for longer driving hours) simply mean less emissions on a day-to-day basis. This is probably not a long-term effect, but in my opinion, having buses belch out poisonous and smelly smoke for eight hours is much better than having these said vehicles produce the same emissions for twelve, even fourteen hours daily. Also, buses that aren't too over-used would require less maintenance and parts replacement, which surely saves on materials and resources.

I think that this Order is one of the better policies that the Philippine government has implemented in recent years, and certainly one of the highlights President Aquino's term in office. I look forward to a similar Order mandated for public utility jeeps, tricycles, and pedicabs.

Also, as a public service announcement, this is the list of the Top 10 most dangerous bus operators in Metro Manila, according to this September 2011 Inquirer article.

Based on the number of deaths (passengers and bus personnel)
1. Admiral Transport
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. JAM Liner
4. Gassat Express
5. Joyselle Express
6. Philippine Corinthian Liner
7. Rainbow Express Inc.
8. Alberto Garating
9. Alps the Bus
10. EM Transit Service

Based on the number of injured (passengers and bus personnel)
1. Admiral Transport
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. AM Liner
4. Gassat Express
5. Joyselle Express
6. Miami Transport
7. Pascual Liner
8. Philippine Corinthian Liner
9. Rainbow Express Inc.
10. CEM Transit Service

Based on damage to property
1. Don Mariano Transit
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. Gassat Express
4. Miami Transport
5. Pascual Liner
6. Rainbow Express Inc.
7. Ropal Transport
8. A&B Liner
9. GELL Transport
10. CEM Transit Service

Montecillo, P. G. (2011). "Most Dangerous Metro Manila Buses Named". Inquirer News. Retrieved on February 2, 2012 from Inquirer online article.
Image retrieved from same Inquirer online article.
Philippine Government Website (2012). "Bus Drivers, Conductors to Get Fixed Pay Starting Feb 1". Retrieved on February 2, 2012 from Philippine government online press release.

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