PETALING JAYA - Schoolbus fares are set to see "a reasonable rise" with the expected announcement tomorrow of the lifting of the fixed ceiling rate by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).
This is as opposed to the 40 per cent hike in fares demanded by schoolbus operators last year.
Federation of Malaysian School Bus Operators Association secretary-general Md Saad Mohamad said that if the ceiling rate were to be removed, school bus fares would then depend on distance and location.
"We are hoping for a win-win situation in which schoolbus operators will be able to sustain their business while offering parents reasonable fares. For example, an operator may offer between RM30 (S$12) to RM50 for the first two kilometres depending on the location of operation," he said.
However, should the fixed ceiling rate remain, Md Saad said the association would seek a 30 per cent increase in fares.
Fomca president Datuk N. Marimuthu said removing the fixed ceiling rate would encourage competition among operators to improve on their services.
"It also gives parents better options. However, schoolbus operators should impose reasonable fares while improving on safety and comfort," he said here yesterday.
Operators, he added, should also take advantage of SPAD's subsidy scheme to replace their old vehicles, which offered RM10,000 (S$3,900) in aid and low fixed interest rate of 2 per cent for loans.
SPAD, said Marimuthu, should address the issue of unregistered vans ferrying students, which he claimed now numbered over 20,000 in the Klang Valley alone.
"SPAD should look at ways to register these vans to ensure better protection for students and make operators accountable," he said.
At present, there are some 15,000 registered schoolbus operators in the peninsula and about 3,000 in Sabah and Sarawak.
Under the existing fare scheme, parents have to pay RM27.43 for the first kilometre and RM2.05 for each subsequent kilometre.
In December, schoolbus operators demanded a 40 per cent increase in fares following a 20 sen rise in the price of RON95 petrol and diesel as well as higher maintenance costs.