SEREMBAN: The government wants more people to use public transport so that it can reduce subsidies paid to bus companies, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke.
He said if the ridership did not increase, then it would seem as if the high amount of subsidies given to bus operators was not justified.
“The amount we pay in subsidies is fixed irrespective of the number of passengers boarding the buses.
“This also means that if the ridership is high then the subsidies we eventually pay will surely be lower.
“So it is very important for us to increase the ridership so that the use of public funds to pay subsidies would be justified,” he told reporters after visiting the myBAS Seremban depot here.
Citing an example, Loke said the government collected only RM600,000 a month from myBAS operations in Negri Sembilan and has to pay about RM1.8mil to RM2mil in subsidies.
“We are paying the bus operators in Negri Sembilan RM4.50 for each kilometre irrespective of the number of passengers and if we can’t fill the buses up, it defeats the purpose of giving the subsidy,” he said adding that in Negri Sembilan alone, the government subsidises 77% of myBAS’ operations.
MyBas operates 98 buses in the state covering a distance of 742km.
Loke also reminded bus operators that their subsidies would be withdrawn if their services were not on par.
He commended myBAS which plans to go cashless starting August this year.
“Passengers will be able to pay via Touch ‘n Go card or the application in their identity cards when the service is launched,” he said.
He also lauded the company for its plan to launch a smartphone application to allow the public to check for real-time information on bus arrivals and departures.
“This would be good for those who wish to plan their journey and should help increase ridership,” he said.
When visiting the Terminal 1 bus station earlier, Loke warned express bus companies against increasing fares indiscriminately and to only charge passengers rates approved by the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD).
Loke said he had received complaints that some express bus companies had increased the fare for the Seremban-Kuala Lumpur route from RM6 to RM7 although the ceiling rate approved by APAD was only RM6.50.
“I received complaints from passengers that the companies raised the one-way fare from June 1 without being approved by APAD.
“I wish to warn all operators that if they do so unilaterally, then we will take stern action which includes suspending their operating licence,” he said.
He also urged passengers who feel they were being overcharged by express bus companies to check with APAD.