PUTRAJAYA: The government has implemented two-year instead of annual contracts for the Interim Stage Bus Support Fund (ISBSF) for stage bus services in Peninsular Malaysia.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the government had allocated RM220mil as subsidy for the period starting January 2019 to December 2020.
“The government has been signing yearly contracts with stage bus operators for the purpose of subsidy payments since 2012.
“Every year, bus operators are kept waiting as they remain uncertain if the government will renew the subsidy programme or not.
“For the first time the government has agreed to make it a two-year contract so that operators can manage their finances better and in turn ensure uninterrupted stage bus services, particularly for ‘social routes’ in rural areas, ” he said at a press conference here yesterday.
Loke had earlier witnessed the signing of the ISBSF agreement between 52 stage bus operators and the Land Public Transport Agency (Apad).
The RM220mil subsidy, or RM110mil a year, is an increase of RM19mil from 2018.
The 52 bus operators serve a total of 350 routes in Peninsular Malaysia, accommodating over 30 million riders a year.
Loke said with the signing of the agreement, stage bus operators would be able to make their claims dating back to January, which he said would be reimbursed in August.
“We understand the plight of stage bus operators which are operating non-profitable routes as delay in subsidy payments will affect their cash flow, ” he said.
He added that the government was committed to the subsidy scheme for the long term.
“There is no country in the world that does not subsidise their stage bus services because the government must ensure bus fare is affordable to all.
“However, operating costs incurred by fuel and maintenance will continue to rise, so the government needs to subsidise, ” said Loke, who reminded the operators to ensure they continue to provide efficient and reliable stage bus services.
Loke also said that a similar agreement would be signed soon with stage bus operators in Sabah and Sarawak that did not come under the jurisdiction of Apad.
Also present at the ceremony were Apad director-general Azlan Shah Al-Bakri and Pan Malaysia Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali.
Having disbursed RM785.3mil since 2012, ISBSF is meant to ensure stage bus operators will continue servicing social service routes.
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