KUALA LUMPUR: The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will hold an engagement session with school bus operators in response to their request to increase school bus fares.
SPAD said it will meet with representatives of three of the largest school bus associations in Peninsular Malaysia – Pertubuhan Persatuan Pengusaha Bas Sekolah Semenanjung Malaysia (PPPBSSM), Persekutuan Persatuan-Persatuan Bas Sekolah Malaysia (PPPBSM) and Gabungan Pengusaha Bas Sekolah Malaysia (GPBSM).
During the meet, SPAD will assess the need to review current practices and identify a more effective formula to solve the challenge of school bus fares mechanism.
“This perennial issue crops up every time we are on the brink of a new school year with operator’s this time claiming that the Government’s removal of diesel subsidy necessitates increased fares.
“In the past, SPAD data showed that operators still sought to raise fares even when diesel subsidies were extended by the Government,” said SPAD in a statement today.
It pointed out that following this, the school bus fares were liberalised in 2015 with a caveat that operators set their fares based on agreement with schools and parent-teacher associations.
The commission felt that allowing market forces to shape fares would be a fair and reasonable way forward and upon implementation, it no longer received complaints from parents about indiscriminate fare hikes.
Recently, it was reported in that school bus fares could be raised again between RM10 to RM20 per month starting next year.
Keeping an eye on the current development, SPAD advised consumers to report on school bus operators that engage in cartel behaviour to set unreasonable prices, to the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) under the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism.
SPAD also added that it would continue to encourage more individuals to come forward and apply for school bus operator’s licences.
Currently there are more than 10,000 licensed school bus operators with more than 16,800 school buses in Peninsular Malaysia.
In addition, SPAD has also extended several initiatives to help the industry, including the School Bus Replacement Scheme from Jan 2013 to Dec 2014.
This was to enable school bus operators to replace aging vehicles, promoting safe travel for school children.
A total of RM18.5 million was disbursed to 213 applicants under a soft loan scheme offered at a low repayment rate of two per cent.
The Finance Ministry also allocated funds to provide RM10,000 rebates for the down payment of new bus purchases and as subsidy for the repayment of the soft loan.
In 2013, SPAD introduced the School Children Insurance Coverage Scheme to provide a safety net for students and their families in the event of accidents, including coverage during other school-approved travel such as excursions and extra-curricular activities.-nst