Drivers, riders share brunt of fuel price surge

Hundreds of commuters are forced to wait longer than usual for their ride in scorching heat along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Tuesday, a scene replicated in other parts of the metropolis, due to a shortage of public utility vehicles (PUVs). There was no transport strike, but the jeepney group Piston said it observed that a growing number of PUV drivers had opted to quit their jobs as the successive fuel price increases shrunk their income. STORY: Drivers, riders share brunt of fuel price surge

MANILA, Philippines — Ethel Sorongon, a Grade 2 teacher at a public elementary school in Quezon City, used to spend P5,000 a month on fuel.

Sorongon’s home in Nagkaisang Nayon, Quezon City, is only about 7 kilometers away from the school where she teaches, but she invested in a car because “if I take the [usual route for commuters], I would be late for work.”

But with the spiraling cost of gasoline and diesel, she now has to budget P10,000 for fuel alone.

“Instead of saving the extra money from my [monthly] salary, there would be nothing left because my gas expenses almost doubled,” she said in a phone interview.

“It’s hard, especially since I am a teacher,” Sorongon lamented, adding that if it was not for her husband’s help meeting their monthly dues, she would have gone back to commuting again.

However, commuters and public utility drivers are in no better position than Sorongon’s and suffer just the same.

Along Commonwealth Avenue, one of Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares, long lines of commuters are a common sight due to the lack of public utility vehicles (PUVs) and jeepneys, which a transport group said was a result of skyrocketing prices of fuel.

The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) noted that people were finding it hard to get a ride to go to work despite the government’s “Libreng Sakay” program.

For Piston deputy secretary general Ruben Baylon, this was their observation because transport workers, particularly drivers, have been forced to quit their day jobs due to the continuous rise in fuel prices.

He said the lack of PUVs and jeepneys could be caused by drivers choosing to quit because the additional fuel costs had eaten up all their earnings.

This was exacerbated by the fact that commuters chose to avail themselves of the “Libreng Sakay” program, which the Piston leader acknowledged was logical since passengers would save money on public transportation.

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