School bus operators keeping their fingers crossed

PETALING JAYA: After almost a year of having their income slashed heavily, school bus operators are looking forward to the reopening of schools in March, but hope that the government will stick to its decision.They are afraid that the government may decide to close schools again if the number of Covid-19 cases rises.

An estimated 30% of operators have shut down their business since last year as the government did not allow schools to operate physically, said Federation of Malaysian School Bus Operators Association president Amali Munif Rahmat.

Bus operators have also spent a lot on vehicle roadworthiness and inspections.

“We hope there are no flip-flop decisions or U-turns. If that is the case, we want a monthly allowance until schools reopen. We have been suffering a lot, ” he said, adding that they only operated for about six months last year.

He said many operators had to turn to other jobs such as opening up roadside stalls or going into delivery service to sustain themselves.

He also said there was a reduction of about 30% in the number of students using their service, as some parents preferred to send their children to school themselves.

School bus operator Patrick Gan said he did not dare to call his former drivers in case there was a U-turn on the decision to reopen schools.

Gan, who operates six buses mainly in the Cheras area, said he could not guarantee a job to his drivers.

He also said a few parents had called him up, but he was stalling until he could get the numbers to sustain his business.

The number of students using his service had dropped by half.

“We have to be careful with every single sen at this stage. This is not a high margin business, ” he said.

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