The Straits Times
Published on Nov 29, 2012

Raise value of bus drivers, and pay rise will follow


THE recent incident of SMRT's bus drivers going on strike over the issue of pay is unfortunate, and should not have happened ("102 SMRT bus drivers protest against pay"; Tuesday).

The recent salary increments for SMRT's bus drivers are small and would be offset by the increase in the cost of living.

The quality of bus drivers in recent years have remained relatively unchanged and service standards have not improved.

Nowadays, there are drivers who speak only Mandarin and are unable to give information about the places of interest along their route. Compared to the past, commuters now cannot depend on bus drivers to give information on the route.

Transport operators have invested heavily in their hardware, however, the same cannot be said of their investment in their drivers.

Changing the job title of a bus driver to "bus captain" or "service leader" does nothing in itself. Make them worthy of their titles; only then can transport operators slowly wean off the dependency on low-wage foreign workers.

Transport operators must look into improving the quality and value of its drivers; only then would a salary increase follow suit and be justified.

Leslie Lee