Government approves school bus fare hike

JOHOR BARU - School bus operators have received an approval from the Government to increase their fares in the peninsula this year with an announcement expected this month.

Federation of Malaysian School Bus Operators Association secretary-general Md Saad Mohamad said the increase, the last of which was in 2009, was long overdue.

"We have no choice but to increase our fares because the diesel price has gone up by 8 cents since last September. The price of spare parts has gone up as well as our maintenance bills," he said yesterday.

Under the existing fare scheme, parents have to pay $10.65 for the first kilometre and $0.80 for each subsequent kilometre.

Md Saad said the association had proposed for parents to be charged a flat rate of between $12 and $16.

"Under this new scheme, parents and school bus operators can still negotiate on the fares depending on the distance between their homes and the schools.

"It is a win-win situation. We will ensure parents will not be burdened and at the same time, we won't be making losses from our operations," said Md Saad.

There are currently 18,000 school buses operating in the peninsula.

Md Saad, who is also Johor Baru School Bus Operators Association chairman, said it could not stop those sending Malaysian students to schools in Singapore from increasing their fares.

"It is up to them to do that following the new toll at Johor Baru CIQ. SPAD cannot stop them as the service goes to another country," he said, adding that the monthly fares ranged from $40 to $120 per student.

The toll rates for coming into Malaysia are now $4, $6, $8, $2 and $3 for the respective Class I to Class 5 vehicles. Taxis (Class 4) are charged $1.80 and buses (Class 5) $3.

The rates for outbound vehicles are $2.60, $4, $5, $1.20 and $2.10. Taxis are charged $1.50 and buses $2. Motorcyclists are exempted.

When contacted, Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said it would announce its decision on the increase sometime this month.

"We will advise you after everyone is back from their Hari Raya break," he said.