However, Federation of School Bus Associations Malaysia president Amali Munif Rahmat said his members were prepared to negotiate with parents, whose income was affected by the enhanced movement control order (MCO).
“Many of our members are complaining that parents are refusing to pay the monthly bus fare in full when schools are closed.
“They do not understand that school bus operators have other fixed costs such as loans, while those with more than one bus must also pay their drivers,” he said.
Amali noted that school bus operators still had to service loans, as these were taken from credit leasing companies and not from banks.
“Only banks have deferred loan payment for six months following the MCO.
“Those of us who took loans from credit leasing companies must still continue to pay,” he said, adding that his members help ferry 1.5 million students to school every day.
Amali said bus operators would have already informed parents at the beginning of the new school term that they would have to pay the bus fare when schools were closed.
“This is already stated in the fare card of students and parents know about it.
“So, if you are still getting your full salary despite staying home, it is only fair that you pay the full fare for your children,” he said.
He pointed out that operators only collected bus fare for 10 or 10.5 months in a year but had overheads running all year round.
For example, he said the drivers were also paid during school holidays in November and December despite no work.
Bryan Chong, who operates a fleet of school buses which ferries some 200 students daily in Nilai, said he was prepared to give a 25% discount to parents.
“Apart from monthly loan instalments, we have other fixed costs such as personal insurance for students as well as payment to park our buses,” he said.
“Parents need to understand this.”
Another school bus operator, who only wished to be known as Kannan, expressed hope that the government would extend some kind of cash assistance to operators if parents refused to pay.
“One parent told me face-to-face that it is wrong for me to collect the fare during the MCO. Parents must remember that the MCO is not our doing and we are all victims of circumstances,” he said.
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