Jeepney driver forced into second job, set for third

FILE PHOTO: Utility jeepneys ply the road. Photo by Joanna Rose Aglibot

MANILA, Philippines — Since he started working as a driver in 2004, Salvador Bernardo always starts his day around 5:30 a.m., transporting passengers in his jeepney between Projects 2 and 3 in Quezon City and Quiapo and Taft Avenue in Manila .

He made five round trips and ended his day around 7 p.m., parking his jeepney in his sister-in-law’s garage in Quezon City before returning to his family in Marikina.

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, he stopped working. After public transport was allowed to resume operations, he asked other drivers to drive his jeepney, collecting them 500 pesos a day under the “limit” system.

To supplement his jeepney’s income, the 40-year-old driver – Andy to his friends and relatives – started working as a food delivery boy using his own motorbike in November last year.

He told the Inquirer that when the last driver left in February due to rising fuel costs, he had to take over the Quezon City-Manila route.

These days, he still makes five round trips a day, earning 450 to 500 pesos per trip, or a daily gross income of 2,250 to 2,500 pesos.

Night deliveries

After deducting fuel and meal expenses, he is left with only 50 pesos net per trip, or about 250 pesos per day. It’s a drastic drop from the P1,800 to the P1,900 he said he was earning as both a driver and operator before the pandemic.

Bernardo is luckier than other drivers who don’t own a jeepney. Still, he has to work harder than before, spending almost 24 hours a day as a jeepney driver and delivery man.

“In these difficult times, we really have to pull out all the stops as commodity and oil prices are rising rapidly and what I earn per day as a jeepney driver is not enough for these prices,” a- he told the Inquirer.

His motorcycle, fortunately, gives him the opportunity to earn some extra money.

After parking his jeepney and taking a brief rest, he does nightly deliveries for GrabFood and Lalamove, earning another P250-300 at the end of the day.

He said he expected to start working for the Angkas moto-taxi service next week.

“Double, Triple Time”

On weekends and Tuesdays, when he is resting his jeepney, Bernardo works full-time as a delivery man. He earns about 1,100 to 1,200 pesos on these days and spends about 200 pesos on motorbike fuel, leaving the rest for the household needs of his wife and four children.

His eldest, his 19-year-old daughter, is now in her second year at university studying financial management. Her 18-year-old daughter is a high school graduate and will soon be entering college.

“I have to work double, triple time. I don’t want my children not to finish their studies like me,” Bernardo said. “I have to give them the right to study at school, even if that means I would only sleep two to three hours a day.”

Challenges

His wife makes money selling ready meals online, he said.

Even though he faces these challenges, Bernardo said he’s ready to go the extra mile just for his family.

Bernardo said he was already considering working full-time as a delivery boy to have a stable income if his earnings from driving his jeepney were simply eaten up by rising fuel prices.

Bernardo is just one of many drivers considering changing jobs in the face of soaring oil prices.

Government subsidy

Some drivers and operators are relying on the government’s 6,500 peso fuel subsidy, although transport groups say the amount is not enough to help them cope with the growing burden of rising fuel costs.

Petitions had been filed with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to raise the minimum jeepney fare from P9 to P10 to P15.

Bernardo does not believe that a minimum rate increase is a long-term solution.

“What they need to do, for me, is suspend these huge fuel taxes. That would alleviate our problems with rising gas prices,” he said.

RELATED STORIES

Amid rising prices at the pump, DOTr says no to higher prices
LTFRB warns jeepney drivers who can’t wait for fare hike
LTFRB: The minimum tariff remains at P9 for the time being; offer to increase it to P10 until decision

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