Three in 4 of new bus firm's drivers are S'poreans, PRs

Among Tower Transit's new bus drivers are (from left) Mr Kong Chiong Ping, 42; Mr Lee Zi Yang, 35; and Mr Lee Shao Xiang, 29. Singapore's newest public bus company offers a higher starting wage than SMRT and SBS Transit, and 26 weeks' paid maternity
Among Tower Transit's new bus drivers are (from left) Mr Kong Chiong Ping, 42; Mr Lee Zi Yang, 35; and Mr Lee Shao Xiang, 29. Singapore's newest public bus company offers a higher starting wage than SMRT and SBS Transit, and 26 weeks' paid maternity leave. PHOTO: PANG XUE QIANG

Three in four of 812 bus drivers hired by Tower Transit, the third local bus operator, are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

Of those hired, 278 - or 34 per cent - are joining the public bus industry for the first time.

Tower Transit has hired 448 new bus drivers - all Singaporeans or PRs - since October.

The median age of these new bus drivers is 43. This is 15 years younger than the industry median of 58. The youngest driver is 21.

The recruitment figures, which it said shows "demographics that buck industry trends", were revealed at a media briefing at Bulim Bus Depot yesterday.

SMRT Buses employs about 2,500 staff. About half of them are Singaporeans and permanent residents.

When contacted, SBS Transit said it could not share data on staff as it is "competitive information".

Tower Transit managing director Andrew Bujtor said of its recruitment drive: "This is unprecedented in the local public bus industry.

"When we were first awarded the Bulim Package, we prepared ourselves for the uphill task of recruiting talented Singaporeans to captain our buses. We weren't, however, prepared for the wave of interest that followed."

The company said over 5,000 people have expressed interest in joining as drivers since May last year.

It offers a higher starting wage than the incumbents and 26 weeks' paid maternity leave.

National Transport Workers' Union executive secretary Melvin Yong said in a Facebook post: "It is indeed good news that our third public bus operator, Tower Transit, has recruited a team of bus captains with a strong Singaporean core."

He said the management had been in touch with the industry. "They, too, acknowledge the importance of being able to attract and retain more Singaporeans in the industry."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Three in 4 of new bus firm's drivers are S'poreans, PRs'. Print Edition | Subscribe