Sunday August 5, 2012
Bus operators want to increase fares by 40%
By P. ARUNA
PETALING JAYA: Bus operators want authorities to allow them to increase fares for express and stage buses by up to 40%.
In its wish list for Budget 2013, the Pan-Malaysia Bus Operators Association said the industry had been badly hit by higher diesel price and an increase in overall operating costs.
The last fare increase by the Government had been in 2008.
Its president Datuk Dr Mohamad Ashfar Ali said the bus industry was still struggling despite the funds allocated by the Government for stage buses.
According to Dr Mohamad Ashfar, several bus companies were also forced to close down as they were unable to cope with escalating operating costs.
He added that many of the operators were not able to access the government allocation due to the strict requirements set by the Land Public Transport Commission.
“We are also suggesting the implementation of a system whereby the fares can be automatically increased once every two years to accommodate inflation, rising costs and other factors,” he said.
Dr Mohamad Ashfar added that the increase in fares should be significant to allow operators to make enough profit to replace old buses.
The association also called for the setting up of a National Policy for Land Public Transport.
“There have been confusing signals from the Government about the direction of the industry.
“While several state governments like Malacca have taken over the operations of stage buses in their states, we are also seeing competition from Mara and RapidKL buses,'' he said.
Dr Mohamad Ashfar said industry players were still in the dark about whether the Government planned to take over the entire operation of stage buses or leave it to the private sector.
This uncertainty, he said, had left bus company operators unsure of whether to continue investing in their businesses.
He said stage bus operators were prepared to sell their operations to the Government.
“What we need is a clearly defined policy to inform all stakeholders about the direction of the industry,” he said.
Among the association's other requests were for the lifespan of buses to be increased to 15 years from the current 10 years for express buses and to 20 years from the current 15 years for stage buses.
“Not only have buses become more expensive, they are built to last for more than 25 years,” he said.
In a memorandum presented to the Prime Minister a month ago, the association had requested the Government to approve an increase of at least 30% on fares for express and stage buses that operate in hilly areas such as Genting Highlands.
It also wanted a 40% hike in fares in areas where road conditions were difficult like in Sabah and Sarawak.