End of the road for Yellow Bus after 58 years


The Yellow Bus dept at Macallum Street.

PENANG: One of the island’s oldest bus services, the Penang Yellow Bus Company, stopped operating yesterday after plying for the past 58 years. 

The company, which sent out termination letters dated Dec 29 to its 100-odd workers, had cited financial losses and stiff competition from other transport services as reasons for stopping its service.  

For over half-a-century, the bus, easily distinguished by its bright yellow colour, was a common feature on the roads here, plying between George Town and the south-west district covering Bayan Lepas, Batu Maung, Teluk Kumbar, Balik Pulau and Paya Terubong. 

The company was started in 1945 by late Penang tycoon Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, a migrant from China who grew from rags to riches.  

Passengers waiting in vain at the Komtar bus terminal for the buses which never showed up.

Prior to starting the company, Loh had worked as a mechanic during the day and cleaned buses at night.  

The buses became very popular and were fondly called ooi kar (yellow car) by the local Hokkien community.  

Not many people were aware that the bus ceased operating yesterday and some commuters were seen waiting at bus stops.  

General worker S. Kuthubutheen, 56, said after waiting over 30 minutes, he took a taxi from his house in Sungai Dua to town for work. 

“I had to spend RM10 one way for taxi but I can’t afford this every day,” he said. 

A company spokesman said the termination of the bus service was advertised in three major newspapers, including The Star. 

It is learnt that termination letters, signed by director Ong Eng Eow, were given on Wednesday to the company’s 45 bus drivers, 45 conductors, 20 checkers, two station masters and 10 administrative staff. 

In a related development, a mini bus company has been issued a temporary permit by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) to operate the Weld Quay-Balik Pulau route while waiting for another local bus company to take over the service. 

State Local Government, Environment and Traffic Management Committee chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said the state government was meeting the bus company and the CVLB today. 

“I am playing matchmaker to enable the company to take over the routes and vehicles of the Yellow Bus Company. The mini buses will ply the routes until the company is ready to take over the service,” he said.  

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