Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In the wake of a number of fatal accidents involving buses in the past couple of weeks, LTFRB chairman Thompson Lantion has proposed that bus drivers' salaries should be changed from commission-based to a fixed monthly salary. However, Integrated Metro Bus Operation Association (IMBOA) head Claire dela Fuente has argued that metro bus drivers would not be "comfortable" with this type of system, saying that this would be more applicable to provincial bus drivers.

Now, this is something that really should be implemented. Metro bus drivers drive the way they do (fast, swerves, goes out of the yellow lanes, avoids the loading stations, etc.) all in a bid to overtake the other buses and pick up more passengers. Simply because the more they pickup, the bigger their take-home pay. Everybody knows that this adds to the worsening traffic situation and the number of accidents that occur, especially on major thoroughfares like EDSA. So if you take away that "incentive," then it follows that drivers would have no need to hurry and are thus more likely to follow traffic rules and regulations.

But bus operators and drivers are not too keen with this setup. The operators are afraid that drivers will get lazy since there would be little incentive to perform. Unlike other jobs, there is very little prospect of promotion and bus companies would have very little leeway in terms of giving performance or even annual increases. This translates to lower revenues and higher operation costs for them. On the other hand, the drivers, especially those that are already used to a higher level of income than what a fixed salary system could provide, would be loathe to the change 'cos this will basically mean lower income for them.

But, what is more important here, public safety or the bus companies and drivers? The LTFRB should make this call, and they should definitely make it soon.