Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Tales from a P2P Bus

It’s a lot more uncommon for me to go to places like Ortigas or Makati nowadays, but when I do I almost always take the P2P bus. The P2P (Point-to-Point) buses were introduced in Metro Manila I think around late 2015/early 2016, as a pricier alternative to the usual city buses. The fares are more expensive, but the buses are also much more comfortable and they don’t make stops along their route, only at the endpoints, so their travel time is faster compared to the usual city buses.

During a recent P2P trip, the bus driver had another person with him that he mentioned was an “apprentice”, basically a new hire that was shadowing him to learn the route. During the 45 minute ride, the two of them talked quite a bit about the P2P business model (from the POV of the driver/employee of course). I learned some interesting things so I thought I’d write about it. All of these points I just overheard from the two so maybe take it with a grain of salt especially in regards to accuracy of numbers etc.

  • The more senior driver had only been in this job since July, but he seemed very satisfied with how much he was earning.
  • Unlike regular drivers and their boundary system, P2P drivers are salaried, with a daily salary of around P700 + P150 allowance. They are required to render 8 hrs/day for their daily pay.
  • They are given an incentive based on the number of people they carry over a day. The example given was if you manage to ferry 225 people in one day, you get a P300 incentive; 300 people is a P500 incentive, and so on. From what I gather, 300 riders is already very high for a single day. The senior driver says this route is comparatively better than the other route (also from the same general endpoint), since that other route is longer and it’s harder to meet the incentives.
  • They also have overtime pay, around P85-P100 per hour (the two had conflicting info).
  • The more senior driver says the job is pretty good, “basta masipag ka." He always drives as many trips as he could to get as much overtime as possible; he sometimes finishes at 11pm, then just eats and goes home to sleep. “Wala naman akong libangan”, he says. (This saddened me a bit.)
  • The senior driver mentioned that they get paid on the 10th and the 25th, but there’s also a daily salary?? I think like maybe the allowance is given daily because he said “hindi ka magugutom kasi may pera araw-araw” or maybe the incentive is given daily? The overtime pay he has to file his extra hours, so that’s not a daily thing.
  • The senior driver says that his last overtime filing was for 100+ hours. At P100/hour that’s more than P10K, so not bad.
  • The senior driver says in this job, your driver’s license is much “safer” than a regular city bus driving job. He claims the traffic authorities never apprehend P2P drivers. Presumably because it’s a government project? The apprentice says “ah kaya pala hindi ka nagseseatbelt”, and the senior driver says yes, he never wears the seat belt, even when there’s a cop standing right in front of the bus. By contrast, if a cop spotted any normal city bus driver without a seat belt, that would be an automatic infraction.
  • Given the economics of his job, the senior driver says he doesn’t feel the need to compete with the city bus drivers (“hindi na ko nakikipaggitgitan”), and his drive is more relaxed since he doesn’t have to worry about picking up passengers etc. “Parang naglalaro lang."
  • The apprentice used to work as a 10-wheeler truck driver (hauling cargo). He says the pay was a bit higher in his last job, but they didn’t give him benefits (overtime, SSS, philhealth, etc). This seems illegal to me??

Obviously I’m not from the same economic bracket as those targetted to work in this occupation, but it seems like a pretty good gig, compared to normal city bus driver jobs at least. I’m glad the economics are working out for both the drivers and the service providers, as the P2P buses are a pretty good alternative option for those who can afford it.

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