Abdul Aziz Kaprawi says the government should set up a special institution to train bus drivers to become more disciplined and professional.
PETALING JAYA: Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi today suggested that express bus drivers be trained like pilots to ensure they are more disciplined, courteous and professional.
To do this, he said, a special institution for public transport must be set up to conduct related courses for such training.
An accredited bus driver, Aziz said, would be able to command a higher salary.
“This is important as it is of public interest. Bus drivers are responsible for the lives of their passengers, which can number up to 40 at one time,” he told FMT.
Aziz was asked to comment on the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Syed Hamid Albar’s call for bus drivers to be paid a higher salary to end the present commission system, which is based on the number of trips they make.
Introducing a better fare, Syed Hamid said, would stop bus drivers chasing trips to get a higher income.
His comments came in the wake on a horrific accident on Christmas Eve, which saw 14 people killed and 16 others injured after the bus plunged into a 10-metre ravine near Pagoh, Johor.
Syed Hamid also called for a more flexible fare structure.
The government in March last year had proposed for a hike in express bus fares, but the plan was put on hold following criticisms from the public. The last revision made to the fares was in 2009.
Aziz, however, felt that what was needed was for a total transformation of the express bus industry, apart from new guidelines.
“We don’t want a situation where bus operators want to increase fares, but refuse to improve their service to be on par with international standards.
“We have no problem with wanting to hike up fares, but this means bus drivers must be as good as pilots.”
Aziz went on to state that bus drivers were forced to make extra trips due to a shortage of drivers, despite the high demand.
“Not many are interested in the profession because of the long hours and low pay,” he said, adding that an institute to train bus drivers would be able to attract the youth.