Low passenger volume drives bus operators to the edge

Association says it has applied for govt aid, but has not received anything


THE bus transportation services industry is getting grimmer by the day as people remain cautious about commuting although the government has allowed the industry to run at full capacity.

The Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said while the government decision has been welcomed, the main issue for the operators is whether people want to travel.

“Bus operators are not very enthusiastic about operating at full capacity. There are some who are operating minimal services because there are no passengers.

“People are reluctant and they do not want to travel. They are not going back to their hometowns or travelling interstate for business, which leads to the low volume of passengers on express buses,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Mohamad Ashfar said since the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) was announced, there has been a minimal increase in passengers using express buses as people are only travelling for urgent matters or for work.

He said the Seremban-Kuala Lumpur route ridership is good, as well as the regular buses from Rawang and Kajang to the city centre that are used by many travelling to and from work.

Mohamad Ashfar said most bus operators do not see the need to operate at full capacity at present because they will be running at losses due to the low passenger volume.

“If they run at losses when there are no passengers, what is the purpose? They will be wasting fuel, wages and other operative costs.”

When asked about any direct aid by the government to help soften the blow, he said PMBOA has applied for help, but received nothing.

“If the members of a company are contributing to the Social Security Organisation (Socso), they could claim under the two schemes that the government has offered.

“I have no figures on how many people applied, but other than that we did not receive any aid. As far as the stage buses are concerned, they have stopped paying our Interim Stage Bus Support Fund because the buses were not in operation.”

TMR had earlier reported that PMBOA had sent an appeal to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong on May 18 to seek a meeting to discuss issues affecting the industry.

Among the contents of the appeal — that bus operators be exempted from paying the employers’ portion of the Employees Provident Fund, Socso and Employment Insurance System during the MCO and three months thereafter, so that employees could help to bear a portion of the burden.

Mohamad Ashfar revealed the Ministry of Transport (MoT) had contacted PMBOA and said they will have a meeting in early July.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said a disruption in public transportation like the availability of express busses does not impact domestic tourism.

“Domestic tourists prefer to travel by air, hire and drive vehicles, self-drive and use tourist vehicles.”