KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya is mulling an increase in express bus fares, which have remained unchanged since 2009, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Deputy Transport Minister Kamarudin Jaffar said the fare increase under consideration would be reasonable, to help express bus operators without burdening users.
“From discussions and consultations with express bus operators, there have been demands and pressure on the government to allow them to increase their fares by between 10% and 30%.
“In the current scenario where the people are facing a high cost of living, any decision to allow an increase must be made carefully and holistically.
“The ministry will make recommendations to be considered by the Cabinet in the near future,” he said in reply to C Sivarraajh (BN-Cameron Highlands).
Sivarraajh had asked Kamarudin (PH-Bandar Tun Razak) whether the bus fares would be increased by 30% according to the demands of the bus operators due to high operational costs. He also asked about measures to overcome the problems arising from an increase in fares.
Kamarudin told the lower house that the last time fares were increased was in 2009, where prices were raised by 31% from 5.6 sen per km to 8.5 sen per km.
He said a surcharge of 0.8 sen a km was imposed in 2015. To date, he said, fares had been increased to 9.3 sen per km.
Sivarraajh had also asked about the ministry’s steps to address the worsening bus transportation services and the attitude of bus drivers who did not adhere to road regulations.
To this, Kamarudin said the ministry had identified high risk operators based on their road rules compliance records. He said they would be continuously monitored and regularly called for safety briefings, especially during festive periods.
“On the attitude of bus drivers, the ministry in April last year introduced a demerit point system involving all categories of land public transport vehicle licence holders.
“The Malaysia Bus Star Rating (MBSR), which will be introduced next year, is also expected to enhance the quality of express bus services and safety, where passengers can choose bus services based on the star rating of the company.
“MBSR will cover all aspects of management system, safety codes, driving quality, level of service and customer satisfaction,” he said, adding that operators must achieve at least three stars.
To a question by Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid (PH-Kapar) on measures taken by the government to ensure no loss of lives from express bus accidents, Kamarudin said low wages were to blame for such accidents as well as the substandard quality of buses.
“Their average monthly salary is less than RM3,000, inclusive of allowance. We also do not encourage drivers to work for more than eight hours, which will result in a drop in the quality or handling of the vehicles by the bus drivers.
“This is why a bit of increase in the fare price can result in better pay for the drivers and better service, and subsequently improve the condition of drivers and contribute to better driving and a reduction in accidents,” he added.