Bus captains to get more say in schedules

Go-Ahead Singapore, the island's fourth bus operator, has launched it services on Sept 4. It takes over 11 services from SBS Transit.
Go-Ahead Singapore, the island's fourth bus operator, has launched it services on Sept 4. It takes over 11 services from SBS Transit.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Go-Ahead Singapore will look to give its bus captains more say in their schedules - from which shift hours they prefer to work to the duration of their meal breaks.

The company's managing director Nigel Wood said that by doing so, its 700 bus captains will be more motivated and more likely to stay with the company.

But he said this preferential scheduling can take place only three to four months after operations - which were launched yesterday - are settled for the firm.

The firm is taking over routes run previously by SBS Transit. Currently, 200 of its bus captains are still driving under SBS Transit and their requests will also need to be factored in.

Go-Ahead, along with Anglo- Australian firm Tower Transit, are the two newest bus operators in Singapore. Both have been the first to offer higher salaries and employment perks, such as longer maternity leave, to tackle the manpower crunch in the sector.

Mr Wood said during a tour of the company's Loyang depot last Thursday that it will match drivers with routes that fit their requests, such as to have a short meal break of 30 minutes or a longer one of 11/2 hours. "We (will) take their feedback... and build schedules that are more family- or staff-friendly."

Some drivers may also want a "split-shift", which is to drive in the morning and then have a three- to four-hour break before resuming work in the evening.

But Mr Wood said a balance has to be struck. "If somebody wanted to work only from Monday to Friday, all the others will be doing weekends and they wouldn't like that."

National Transport Workers' Union executive secretary Melvin Yong told The Straits Times it was good that Go-Ahead took into account its employees' preferences. He said: "It shows that Go-Ahead Singapore values the feedback of the workers and wants to build a positive working environment."

But he said the expectations of workers will have to be carefully managed with good communication between both parties.

Adrian Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Bus captains to get more say in schedules'. Print Edition | Subscribe