Rising costs, changing policies may cause a third of school bus operators to quit

KOTA KINABALU: Some 30 per cent of school bus operators are expected to cease operating when schools reopen next year, citing rising costs and ever changing policies as the reasons.

Sabah West Coast School Bus Association president Kenny Wong said the government had made adjustments to the rate for school bus fares from time to time, but the revision had not been reasonable as it did not take into account fuel price fluctuations, high maintenance and tyre costs, rising living costs and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“We wanted to raise the bus fares, but the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) did not allow us to do so,” he said when asked if school bus operators would be raising their fares in view of the increase in costs next year.

Federation of Malaysian School Bus Operators Associations president Amali Munif Rahmat said that prices would

be set by individual operators or companies and may differ from one another.

However, a local Chinese daily reported that CVLB Sabah did not allow school bus operators in Sabah and Labuan to increase their fares without approval.

The board said request to increase bus fares should be submitted to CVLB for discussion and subsequently to the Federal Cabinet for approval.

Wong said a small school bus need to make RM3,000 a month, cost included, to sustain.

“After deducting fuel expenses (RM700 to RM800 a month), tyres (which needed to be changed every few months), repair and maintenance, vehicle insurance and Puspakom (Computerized Vehicle Inspection Centre), small school buses may only make a profit of RM1,000 a month.

“It is very hard driving a school bus, more so for operators who need to raise a whole family. We do not earn much profit, just enough to put three meals on the table,” he lamented.

Wong pointed out that the government had said the school bus fares were open for operators to determine a few years ago, but the government is telling the opposite now.

He said the association has had dialogues with the CVLB management and director and reached a consensus, but

by Chok Sim Yee

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