Interstate travel: Malaysian bus operators worry about maintenance


By AGENCY

A bus conductor sanitising the interior of the vehicle in preparation for interstate travellers. - KK SHAM/The Star

While the permission to allow interstate travel has given a new lease of life to bus operators, they are also worried about the maintenance costs, says Malaysian Bumiputera Bus Operators’ Association (PPBBM) chairman Che Ibrahim Che Ismail.

He said bus operators were worried as they were still unable to provide vehicles fit enough to start operations.

“A lot of maintenance works need to be done before we can resume operations again. Among the costs that will be faced by the operators are for maintenance, bus air conditioning system, batteries that are damaged and need to be replaced as well as vehicle insurance.

“We need between RM10,000 and RM15,000 to service each bus before it is deemed fit to travel.

“As long as we do not have the vehicles ready, we may not be able to operate even though interstate travel has been allowed,” he said.

However, he said if the vehicles could be serviced sooner, it could help increase the income of bus operators and customers would also feel safer to travel in them.

“Many people are more comfortable to use their own vehicles for interstate travel or tourism activities.

“The Transport Ministry and the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry need to give emphasis and awareness on the safety and advantages of using public transport for interstate travel,” he said.

He said the bus operators on average could only provide 20% to 30% of their vehicle capacity to resume business, due to the lack of capital.

Most of the operators are from Peninsular Malaysia, concentrated in major states such as Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, and Kelantan.

The association also hopes that under Budget 2022, the government can provide assistance in terms of grants or loans (start-up operating capital) to ensure vehicles can be made available to boost tourism and to get people to use public transport such as express and school buses. – Bernama

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