SELAYANG: Bus drivers having to chase commissions is one reason why there have been many accidents, and this could be minimised with flexible fares, according to Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.
Speaking in the aftermath of the Johor bus crash on Christmas Eve that killed 14 people, including the driver and his daughter, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman said that frequently, bus accidents are caused by a chain of events.
Currently, bus drivers get a commission based on the number of trips they make.
"Their basic pay is low and often not satisfactory. Their commission depends on the (number of) trips they make, so that forces (drivers) to chase trips.
"Therefore we need to allow and encourage bus operators to pay higher salaries," he said, however adding that not all operators paid low salaries.
Syed Hamid also noted that express bus operators are not government-owned.
"It's the private sector. If we control their fees and make them increase salaries, I think they will close shop. They can't afford that.
"Which is why I think we should allow more flexible fares.
"When taxis and others increase their fares, they (express buses) are not allowed to increase theirs," he said Tuesday after distributing aid to the Rohingya community here.
Express bus fares were last reviewed in 2009, while taxi fares saw an increase in 2015.
Syed Hamid added that increasing fares was merely one part of the solution, as there were other factors that also needed to be addressed.
"We are also short of drivers and if one company fires a driver for bad behaviour, that driver can always go to another operator - and that is a problem," he said.
Syed Hamid urged other bodies like the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) and the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to work with SPAD and the Transport Ministry to investigate the Johor bus crash, and to help resolve safety issues.
"Personally, I would like for buses to have seatbelts and if possible in future, they should be installed with speed limiters to prevent speeding," he said.