ALMOST all school bus drivers in Penang have been fully vaccinated and they are eager to hit the road when school reopens next month.
Penang School Bus Association chairman Ang Beng Peong, 67, said they have about 200 members in the association and more than 90% of them have been fully vaccinated.
“We are ready to fetch students when school reopens next month.
“We will continue to adhere strictly to the standard operating procedures (SOP) to ensure the safety of all the students.
“We will also sanitise our buses thoroughly before and after school daily,” he said in an interview.
Ang noted that some school bus drivers had changed jobs as their income was badly affected.
“Some drivers, especially those who are older, have decided to call it a day.
“About 20% of our drivers have taken up new jobs such as food delivery riders, or factory bus drivers,” he said.
Even as schools reopen, Ang said the situation would not be like before as some parents might prefer to send their children to school themselves.
“Some parents told us that they had lost their jobs and asked if we could reduce the monthly fee.
“We will make adjustments on a case-by-case basis.
“The fee is usually around RM100 a month but it depends on the distance,” he explained.
Another bus operator Lim Boon Kooi, 63, said all his drivers would be fully vaccinated by Sept 30 before schools reopen.
“We are only allowed to utilise half of the usual capacity which means that we have to deploy more vehicles.
“I also have to provide students with hand sanitisers before they enter our buses and face masks for my drivers.
“All this cost a lot of money in the long run,” he said, adding that the charges would remain the same although his expenses have increased.
Lim has about 50 drivers under him to operate his fleet of around 80 school buses and vans.
Schools in states under Phases Two and Three of the National Recovery Plan are set to reopen in stages from Oct 3, beginning with exam year students in Forms Five and Six.