Public bus operator Go-Ahead to pay $1,865 starting wage; 5-15% higher than SBS Transit, SMRT

(From left) Ms Margaret Fowler, Mr Wang Poon Liang and Mr Nigel Wood after the MOU signing between Go-Ahead Singapore and the National Transport Workers' Union.
(From left) Ms Margaret Fowler, Mr Wang Poon Liang and Mr Nigel Wood after the MOU signing between Go-Ahead Singapore and the National Transport Workers' Union.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Go-Ahead, the fourth public bus operator here, will offer Singaporean bus drivers a starting basic wage of $1,865 a month.

The London-based transport firm announced its employment terms for drivers on Monday (Feb 15) at an event with the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU).

Experienced bus captains who join them will get a $2,000 sign-on bonus, while all new employees will be paid a one-off retention bonus of $1,000.

 

Go-Ahead's starting basic wage of $1,865 matches the amount that the other new bus operator Tower Transit is paying its Singaporean drivers.

This basic pay is 5 to 15 per cent higher than that offered by existing bus operators SBS Transit and SMRT, though their drivers also receive other allowances and incentives.

Like Tower Transit, Go-ahead will offer its female staff up to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave - more than the 16 weeks offered by most firms.

Drivers stand to earn bonuses for meeting safety targets, among other performance criteria.

They will also receive an annual allowance starting at $430, that can be spent on a range of health and wellness, development or leisure programmes.

Go-Ahead said its bus drivers will be able to upgrade their skills through training programmes, and advance their careers.

Mr Nigel Wood, the managing director of Go-Ahead Singapore, said he started off as a bus driver in London 21 years ago and can relate to the aspirations of frontline staff.

"Many (drivers) wish to provide for themselves and their families, to work in a comfortable and nurturing environment, and to be given opportunities to grow," he said. "We have developed an employment package in close consultation with the union."

NTWU executive secretary Melvin Yong, who is also an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, said on Monday: “Moving forward, NTWU looks forward to building strong labour-management relations with Go-Ahead and the NTWU Bus Contracting Transition Committee will continue to work closely with Go-Ahead to engage the affected employees, and address any queries or concerns pertaining to the employment package from Go-Ahead.”

He said it was also critical that the tripartite partners continue to work together to ensure that the interests of the affected employees are taken care of, and that they experience a smooth transition during the process.

In November last year, Go-Ahead Group beat out seven other shortlisted firms to clinch the Loyang package of 25 bus services in Pasir Ris and Punggol.

Its bid of $497.7 million was the lowest submitted, and is about $134 million lower than the highest bid.

The Loyang package comprises three new services and 22 existing ones now run by SBS Transit. Go-Ahead will take over Pasir Ris and Punggol bus interchanges, and the new Loyang Bus Depot.

It will run the bus services from the third quarter of this year, and start recruiting drivers this month.

The British transport operator aims to hire about 700 drivers.

Said Mr Wood: "Building our Singapore operations will take time, but the first priority will be on the people we hire."

The first government bus contract for 26 bus services in the western region was awarded to London-based Tower Transit in May last year.

The tenders are part of the Government's move to a bus contracting model, to increase competition in public bus services.