Fewer bus accidents if fares and salaries were higher: Malaysia land transport regulator

The bus that crashed in Muar, Johor, on Dec 24, 2016.
The bus that crashed in Muar, Johor, on Dec 24, 2016.PHOTO: BHM

SELAYANG (The Star/Asia News Network) - Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman suggested on Monday (Dec 26) that express bus fares be increased to help improve drivers' salaries and in turn reduce the frequency of fatal accidents.

Speaking in the aftermath of the Johor bus crash on Christmas Eve that killed 14 people, including three Singaporeans, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar noted that bus drivers currently earn a commission based on the number of trips they make.

"Their basic pay is low and often not satisfactory. Their commission depends on the (number of) trips they make, so that forces (drivers) to chase trips.

"Therefore we need to allow more flexible fares and encourage bus operators to pay higher salaries," he said.

 
 
 

Express bus fares were last reviewed in 2009, while taxi fares saw an increase in 2015.

Syed Hamid also noted that express bus operators are not government-owned.

"It's the private sector. If we control their fees and make them increase salaries, I think they will close shop. They can't afford that.

"Which is why I think we should allow more flexible fares.

"When taxis and others increase their fares, they (express buses) are not allowed to increase theirs," he said.

Syed Hamid added that increasing fares was merely one part of the solution, as there were other factors that also needed to be addressed.

"We are also short of drivers and if one company fires a driver for bad behaviour, that driver can always go to another operator - and that is a problem," he said.

Syed Hamid urged other bodies like the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) and the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to work with SPAD and the Transport Ministry to investigate the Johor bus crash, and to help resolve safety issues.

"Personally, I would like for buses to have seatbelts and if possible in future, they should be installed with speed limiters to prevent speeding," he said.