Beefed-up bus fleet 'needs more Singaporeans'

National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) executive secretary Melvin Yong has called on more Singaporeans to be bus captains as he pushes for greater tripartite efforts to level up the skills of the trade.

In a blog post yesterday, Mr Yong, who is also an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, reiterated the need for a fundamental shift in the mindset of the job.

With the injection of 1,000 new government-funded buses under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme and the introduction of the new government bus contracting model, he said there is an urgent need for more bus captains.

"Not only should we refrain from having more foreign drivers to ply our bus routes, there is also a limit to how many one can employ. We definitely need more Singaporeans to join the trade."

He added that more can and will be done to attract more women. Currently, less than 10 per cent of bus drivers are female.

Being a bus captain encompasses much more than just operating a huge vehicle, he said. "A bus captain also has to manage more advanced systems in the bus as well as commuters today, who often have higher expectations."

With the NTWU pushing for more structured training for bus captains, Mr Yong said there is a need for a national bus academy to raise professionalism.

"Perhaps then, our Manpower Ministry can reconsider bus driving as a skilled profession!"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline 'Beefed-up bus fleet 'needs more S'poreans''. Print Edition | Subscribe