Steering forward with great gusto


(From left) Norsuraya, Rohana and Noorfiza sharing a light moment at the Rapid Penang bus depot in Sungai Nibong, Penang. — Photos: MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star

YOU would not want to mess with these bus captains.

One of them has won an award, another has toughed it out as a security guard while the third is bent on pursuing a degree.

By the way, they are all women. (They are among the 23 female bus captains out of the 650 captains in Rapid Penang.)

“There were detractors among my friends and relatives who said driving a bus was a man’s job but I proved them wrong by becoming one of the best captains in my company, ” said Rohana Omar, 51.

Three years ago, Rohana was named by Rapid Penang as the Best Captain for 2017.

To her, discipline is the key word.

“I always believe in discipline while on the road as it keeps me in check. After all, we are referred to as the ‘king of the road’, ” she said.

She has been with Rapid Penang for 10 years now.

“I used to be fascinated about driving a bus.

“Whenever I saw bus captains on the road, I would tell myself ‘wait, I will drive like you one day’, ” she recalled.

Rohana used to work as a supervisor in a textile company and was offered a higher salary when she wanted to quit.

“But by then, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to be a bus captain.”

Throughout her job, she has encountered many people who appreciate her services.

“I have had passengers who offered me food and even got me presents because I was a courteous driver, ” said the single mother of four children aged between 17 and 24.

As for Noorfiza Mudarshah, 52, she started out as a security guard in Rapid Penang and decided to take up the challenge of driving a bus eight years ago.

So, she underwent training to be a bus captain.

“When I started as a cadet driver, I did have the fear of driving such a huge vehicle.

“But I managed to overcome the fear over the years, ” she said.

Her mantra at work - safety of the passengers and the public, and to be cheerful to them.

“I may have had a rough time at home but I always believe in putting on a cheerful and brave front as this makes the passengers comfortable, ” Noorfiza said.

Today, the income that the divorcee earns is helping her support her three children, who are aged between 18 and 22.

Another bus captain, Norsuraya Sufian Tan, shared her experience of surviving a collision in 2015.

“It was the most horrifying experience.

“I watched in horror when the driver of the car drove straight at the bus I was driving at a stretch of road in Ayer Itam.

“All I could do was to swerve the bus to minimise the impact, ” said Noorsuraya, who has a diploma in business management.

She said Rapid Penang was supportive and she returned to work the day after the accident.

Norsuraya, 33, said the job had allowed her to meet people and taught her how to handle situations while on the road.

Married to a bus captain, she plans to pursue her degree in transportation.

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