PETALING JAYA: The government should emulate Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) free school bus ride model – known as MySchoolBus – as a nationwide initiative, say experts.
Transport expert Rosli Khan said the initiative will help to ensure students from the B40 and M40 families could consistently attend school.
“Through the MySchoolBus initiative in Kuala Lumpur, 15,128 school children have benefited… so it should be expanded,” Rosli told FMT.
The suggestion comes in response to reports of schools in Perak experiencing a decline in attendance following the closure of the Hup Yik bus service due to high maintenance costs and low ridership.
MySchoolBus was introduced by DBKL with an allocation of RM23 million. It involves a total of 900 school buses.
Rosli said he was puzzled by the government’s RM600 million allocation in the 2024 budget for Prasarana to buy more feeder buses.
“The current fleet of feeder buses has been running empty and offers no benefits to users. This allocation could instead be reallocated to expand the MySchoolBus programme nationwide,” he said.
Federation of School Bus Associations Malaysia president Amali Munif Rahmat said the model could also help bus operators sustain their business as most were struggling to stay afloat.
Amali said more than half had shut down since the pandemic struck.
M Saravanan, 40, cited low ridership post-Covid-19 as the primary reason he closed his school transportation service after operating for 15 years in Kajang.
“I believe there is a stigma that school buses are not safe (after the pandemic), and as a result some parents have prefered to send their kids to school by themselves.
“Another reason could be because of the availability of MRT buses in certain areas.”
Amali expressed disappointment over the absence of government assistance for school bus operators in the 2024 budget.
“If the government continues to neglect school bus services, we will come to a point where there will no longer be any operators.”