WITH no sight of the Covid-19 pandemic ending soon, a large number of school bus operators have quit the business and taken up other jobs to earn a living.
The rise in Covid cases has reduced the number of school-children using school buses with most of them being chauffeured by their parents.
Federation of Malaysian School Bus Operators Association president Amali Munif Rahmat said many operators have become delivery ‘guys’, especially for food and courier service providers, as they could not sustain their business any longer.
“We have roughly 16,000 school bus operators nationwide and about 40% of them have left in the last one year when many children stopped going to school and many parents stopped using our services when school reopened.
“Business, too, has dropped by 40% since the pandemic as the M40 group of parents started driving their children to school, with only the B40 group still using school buses, ” he said.
Amali said the B40 group had no choice as school buses were the only mode of transport available and affordable to them.
“Until today, we still receive calls from this group as certain residential areas are no longer covered by school buses after many bus operators left.
“There is very little that we can do, as the younger generation of school bus operators don’t have the patience to wait and have ventured into other businesses.”
Amali said several operators have sold their buses and bought lorries to transport goods and some were in the food delivery service, which is a roaring business now.
“Our drivers are aged between 21 and 65 and those above 50 will stick with this business as they are not suitable to be delivery boys or lorry drivers.
“Business also differs in certain states and schools.
“In Penang, the demand for school buses is still high among students in Chinese schools, as they have various tuitions and extra-curricular activities compared to national-type schools.
“Parents with children in these schools are also willing to pay double or triple the amount compared to parents in national-type schools.
“Penang, too, has the most number of school bus operators who are above 50 years old as they have been providing the service for a long time, ” added Amali.