PETALING JAYA: In a bid to resolve the ongoing issue of school bus fares, operators are calling on the government to set up a proper system to provide subsidies.
Federation of Malaysian School Bus Associations president Amali Munif Rahmat said the right mechanism is crucial in ensuring the proper distribution of the subsidy.
He also said the federation would be meeting the Land Public Transport Agency (Apad) to discuss the matter further and come up with suggestions on how to ensure the subsidies were channelled to the targeted groups in need.
“It’s important for stakeholders to come up with a working mechanism.
“In the past, we tried to suggest this (proposed mechanism) via the schools and parent-teacher associations, but they themselves have a lot of issues to deal with, which is why we need a new way to tackle this,” he added.
Amali Munif said it was a complex matter because it involves the child, the parents, the school and the bus operator.
“The child should be registered in that particular school, endorsed by the headmaster or school, and then the parents have to sign off before the operator needs to be notified to ferry the child,” he said when contacted yesterday.
Citing how underprivileged children obtained zakat allocations for bus fares, he said that there was a form that needed to be filled up and certified by the operator, who would then receive monthly payments.
This method provides several steps of verification – including by the parents and the operator – to ensure that the money is properly distributed.
On rising bus fares, Amali Munif reiterated that it was based on the market price, the localities, and even the types of school.
“We don’t determine the fare, it is between parents and the operators.
“For private or international schools, their fares are sometimes part of their tuition fees, which can go up to RM1,000 because the operators work with the schools.
“They often use air-conditioned buses that only cater for certain groups.
“Army officers have their own buses that ferry the children of servicemen.
“Meanwhile, DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) has a free bus service called the MySchoolBus@Wilayah programme, which caters for children from public housing, so this is why a targeted mechanism is important,” he added.
Selangor, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur School Bus Association president Mohd Haron Mohd Sidik proposed a 50-50 mechanism borne by the government and parents.
“If the mechanism is right, operators will be able to at least sustain their services and help eradicate the illegal ones.
“Look at the MySchoolBus@Wilayah – if DBKL can implement it for targeted groups, why can’t other states do the same?
“What we need is an agreement between the school, parents and operators for this to work, while also looking at the distance involved as well,” he said.
Mohd Haron said his association would like to meet with the Transport Ministry to discuss the mechanism and get the Road and Transport Department to crack down on illegal operators.
Kash Transport Services Sdn Bhd director Kamal Yahya said subsidising school bus fees is a good move for both parties.
“Indirectly, this kind of government assistance through a targeted subsidy scheme can contribute to the recovery of the country’s economy in general.
“It can ease the financial burden of school bus users, and provide additional funds for operators.
“This can translate into improved services and incomes for drivers, who are currently earning less than RM2,000 a month.
“Subsidising school bus fees is highly appropriate because it is the main mode of transportation for children to go to school.
“Therefore, it is the government’s duty to ensure that this service is available to the people,” he said.