Second new bus firm sweetens package for drivers

(From left) Go-Ahead Singapore deputy transitional director Margaret Fowler; HR director Wang Poon Liang and managing director Nigel Wood after signing an MOU with the National Transport Workers' Union yesterday.
(From left) Go-Ahead Singapore deputy transitional director Margaret Fowler; HR director Wang Poon Liang and managing director Nigel Wood after signing an MOU with the National Transport Workers' Union yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Go-Ahead offers bonus of up to $3,000, leave perks, free travel and an annual allowance

The competition for bus drivers in Singapore rose by another notch yesterday, with newcomer Go-Ahead announcing a compensation package that matches Tower Transit's, and adding a couple of new sweeteners.

The Britain-based company, in its first bus foray outside Britain, said Singapore drivers will receive a minimum starting pay of $1,865 - identical to that offered by Australian operator Tower Transit.

Tower will start operating bus services in Jurong from the middle of this year, while Go-Ahead will start doing so for a package of routes in Loyang from the third quarter.

To entice drivers, Go-Ahead is offering a $2,000 bonus to experienced drivers, and a $1,000 bonus to all who join.

Tower offered a bonus to experienced drivers that was equivalent to half their basic salary.

Go-Ahead is also throwing in an annual allowance of $430-$830, maternity leave of 16-26 weeks, two days' eldercare leave and six days' childcare leave.

Staff will also get free travel on all bus and train services in Singapore. Go-Ahead Singapore managing director Nigel Wood said: "I started off as a bus driver in London 21 years ago, and can relate to the aspirations of front-line service personnel."

BETTER BENEFITS

I started off as a bus driver in London 21 years ago, and can relate to the aspirations of front-line service personnel. ''

GO-AHEAD SINGAPORE MANAGING DIRECTOR NIGEL WOOD

He said the company is looking to hire about 700 drivers, 100 engineers and technicians, and 100 support staff. "We haven't even launched, and we've already had over 100 walk-in applicants."

The starting salaries of the newcomers are significantly higher than those offered by the incumbents. SBS Transit's starting pay for a Singaporean driver is $1,775, while SMRT's is $1,625.

Both, however, claim that with overtime, allowances and incentives, their drivers can earn up to $3,000 a month - similar to what the newcomers promise.

Bus drivers The Straits Times spoke to said that, in general, the salaries offered by the newcomers are more attractive to new entrants and novice drivers.

"I won't move," said a driver who has been with SBS Transit for over 20 years. "The pay is about the same. But if a new company takes over my route, I may not have a choice. I'll consider when the time comes."

Another driver, a 19-year veteran with SBS Transit, said: "I make around $4,800 a month - but that's working (on) three days off, and 55 hours a week.

"But the benefits of the new companies are better, like dental and medical. And we can travel free only on SBS buses and trains. For their staff, there is no restriction."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2016, with the headline 'Second new bus firm sweetens package for drivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe