Salaried bus drivers equals safer roads

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Ernesto F. Herrera

Ernesto F. Herrera

House Bill (HB) 29013, filed by Rep. Eric Olivarez of the First District of Parañaque City, seeks to give a “part-fixed, part-performance-based” wage rate for bus drivers to provide them with a more stable monthly salary.

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The bill also mandates bus owners/operators to provide drivers and conductors with wage-related benefits, including holiday, premium, 13th month and overtime pays, leaves, social security and welfare benefits, separation or retirement pay, night-shift differential and other benefits under existing laws.

I am all for this. But why not give them fixed regular salaries and no more of this “part-fixed, part-performance-based” scheme?

I’ve been writing and urging fixed salaries for bus drivers in this column for the longest time.

In fact, we don’t even need a law for this.

The Department of Labor and Employment and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board had already issued in July 2012 Department Order 118-12, ordering bus operators to give fixed salaries to their bus drivers and operators.

However, the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order after bus operators appealed the measure. They argued that the order is unconstitutional.

Bus owners are really a big part of the problem. They choose to be a hindrance against safer roads.

They opposed the retraining of bus drivers when the Department of Transportation and Communication had mandated it because they didn’t want to pay for the cost of retraining. Some even wanted to pass on the cost of retraining to their drivers.

They opposed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s tagging of buses because of the cost of repainting buses, when the measure was well-intended to immediately spot colorum buses.

They refused to abolish the quota system that puts bus drivers under tremendous pressure in favor of fixed salaries.

Bus operators should pay their drivers regular salaries instead of commissions based on the number of passengers they pick up.

The Constitution provides that the State shall afford full protection to labor and guarantees the right of workers to humane conditions of work and a living wage.

It would be easier for the government to require buses to work on schedules and stop only at designated bus stops if their drivers are not too harried looking for passengers because their pay depends on it. This would complement the government’s efforts to bring back decent, sensible and disciplined driving among bus drivers.

With regular salaries and proper accreditation of bus drivers perhaps we can finally see an end to the senseless deaths, injuries and damage to properties caused by rash and negligent bus drivers.

Remember the Don Mariano Transit Corp. bus driver that fell off the Skyway in Parañaque City and killed 18 people recently had been driving 19 hours straight trying to chase his commission.

Told you so
Just a week or so after I wrote a column urging better regulations and safer ways of transporting oil (Preventing oil transport accidents, 07 January 2014), the Inquirer reported that a tanker carrying around 10,000 liters of fuel fell on its side in Quezon City spilling its flammable cargo on the road.

The tanker was loaded with diesel, kerosene and gasoline when its brakes failed. The driver lost control and sent the tanker falling on its side.

Teams from the Bureau of Fire Protection and the MMDA were called in to clean up the spill.

By sheer luck no one was killed or hurt and there was no fiery explosion.

Had it occurred in a more populated area it would surely have been more deadly and disastrous.

I’ll never get tired of shouting this until I am hoarse. This accident once again highlights the need to transport oil via pipeline instead of doing it by any other means, such as trucking.

There has been growing evidence, not only here but in other countries, that oil transport by trucking or any other vehicle over land and water, is less safe than using pipelines.

We’ve had our share of oil trucking accidents here. I mentioned many of them already in this column. You’ve probably seen how truck drivers drive, heck, how Filipinos drive in general. It’s no surprise accidents here are so commonplace. Bad driving here routinely claims the life of innocent citizens and causes millions of damages. What more if these bad drivers are behind the wheels of trucks carrying large quantities of highly combustible fuel?

Again, we shouldn’t be trucking huge quantities of fuel when we have pipelines to do this. Let us use the pipelines we have here in the Philippines, like the 117-kilometer Batangas-to-Manila white oil pipeline that is currently closed because of a case that has been pending in the Supreme Court for almost four years. The Department of Energy had already recommended the reopening of this pipeline and said it was safe to operate so why not use it?

It’s time for the Supreme Court to resolve the pipeline case. Let’s not wait for a deadly and explosive oil truck accident before we use that pipeline.

Reopening the oil pipeline will certainly reduce the number of dangerous tankers plying petroleum products on our dangerous roads, as well as help ease our horrendous everyday traffic in the metropolis.

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1 Comment

  1. You have that spot on that bus drivers should get proper salaries. It might upset them though as it will probably mean they will earn less than they did on performance pay, but it will ( along with proper training ) make for safer driving by bus drivers. Also over time they will appreciate having at kleast 1 day off per week to spesnd with their famalies. It should be bought into effect as of now as the sooner the better for everyone who travels by road. In the west midlands in the uk we have west midlands passagger transport executive who runs the major bus company & it works great. You can buy a ticket to anywhere the bus goes. You can buy a day ticket for using any bus anywhere in the west midlands & you can buy a weekly ticket or a monthly ticket & it works. All thos who commute to work would pay monthly as it works out cheaper but the bus company has a guaranteed income & can budget. Someone from the authority would do well to travel to the west midlands to see exactly how it works & bring it here & it will improve things for everyone.