Even when the initial lockdown restrictions in Manila were eased in June only a fraction of the city’s roughly 55,000 jeepneys were allowed to operate under strict rules.
Drivers had to make their vehicles virus-safe by installing plastic seat dividers and reducing capacity to comply with social-distancing regulations.
Those used to pocketing as much as 1,500 pesos a day had to settle for much smaller takings.
Then a new lockdown imposed nearly two weeks ago in Manila and four surrounding provinces — home to a quarter of the country’s population — forced those lucky few off the road.
Some are worried they may never drive again as the government phases out smoke-belching jeepneys that are 15 years or older.
The program to modernize the vehicles was due to finish this year. The government has not announced if the deadline will be extended.
Renato Gandas, 57, who has been a driver for 30 years, said the owner of his vehicle had already sold a jeepney due to the phasing-out program and the lockdowns.
With his livelihood at risk, Gandas is losing hope.
“We might just beg for alms for the rest of our lives,” he said.