Fewer buses on the road


PETALING JAYA: Bus tickets for Hari Raya Aidilfitri are selling fast but operators are unable to provide extra trips due to a massive shortage of drivers.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said they expected a huge surge in demand for bus tickets as travel is back in full swing this festive season.

“Most operators cannot put extra buses on the road due to a lack of drivers,” he said.

Mohamad Ashfar said the shortfall is due to several factors including failure to recruit new drivers to replace those who retired as the fees to obtain the necessary licences is high.

He said the total cost to obtain licences for bus drivers, which include the Class E driver’s licence and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence, and their related courses, could go as high as RM5,000.

“Another reason is that many drivers have gone to Singapore to work because of the high exchange rate,” he said, estimating that one-third of bus drivers in the republic could be Malaysian.

He said there are also those who lost their jobs or changed their career path during the Covid-19 pandemic that began in 2020.

Mohamad Ashfar said the country faces an overall shortage of 5,000 drivers, including those who operate lorries as well as school, factory, and tour buses.

He claimed that the Transport and Human Resources Ministries have been notified of the problem but, as far as he knows, no action has been taken yet.

“We hope the government will look into this issue seriously,” he said.

Peninsular Malaysia Express Bus Operators Association president Laili Ismail said apart from a lack of drivers, many bus operators had also stopped services during the various movement control orders during the pandemic and had not returned.

“The demand for Raya bus tickets is at an all-time high,” he said.

“Even though the demand is fantastic, especially to the east coast and northern states, we cannot meet it.”

Sanwa Tours director Sathies Supramaniam said the company is facing a shortage of 20 drivers.

“We have 25 now and are offering 10,000 tickets.

“Due to the lack of drivers, we are not going to apply for permits to operate extra buses this Raya season,” she added.

Sathies urged the government to encourage more youths to take up vocational studies and learn to operate buses while providing them with the Class E licence and PSV licences required for free.

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Bus , tickets , Hari Raya Aidilfitri

   

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