GEORGE TOWN: Despite the festive holidays drawing near, bus operators are not feeling the mood as business has been lukewarm in the weeks leading up to the Chinese New Year break.
A bus counter sales operator said ticket sales were not encouraging this year.
“Usually around a week before CNY, our tickets would have been sold out.
“But this year, only the buses from Penang to Kuala Lumpur are partly booked and not all the buses are full.
“We have buses leaving for Kuala Lumpur every hour and most of the buses have 10 to 15 seats unoccupied in a 27-seater, ” said the operator, who wanted to be known as Lim.
She said the slow demand could be could be due to the price hike.
Tickets from Jan 22-26 have gone up from RM36 to RM50 or RM60.
“Many operators hiked the fees as the festive season usually sees a higher demand but this year, the demand is low.
“Maybe more people prefer to fly as the cost is almost the same if they booked early and it saves a lot of travelling time.
“And there are so many operators nowadays, so ticket sales could be unevenly distributed, ” Lim said yesterday.
Another bus counter sales executive Cindy Wong, 60, said they even have buses which are still empty.
“Most buses from here to Johor Baru are not booked yet, and only buses from Penang to areas like KL, Ipoh, Klang, Genting Highlands and Shah Alam are in demand.
“Even though the demand is higher for buses going to these areas, we only received bookings for bus tickets from Jan 22-24.
“I think this could be due to the short Chinese New Year holidays we have this year, ” she said at her sales office in Komtar.
At the Sungai Nibong bus terminal, sales executive Loo Soon Wah, 39, said although ticket sales are slower this year, the demand was still there.
“For example, out of the 16 buses leaving for KL each day, there are more than 10 seats left on each bus. It may be due to the frequent intervals of buses travelling to each state.
“As most operators have buses leaving every hour to KL, passengers can book any time they want and the buses may not be filled, ” he said.