JOHOR BARU - Bus operators in the Malaysian state of Johor want the government to extend an initiative offered to drivers in the logistics sector to public bus drivers in order to help address a critical shortage in the state, The Star reported.
The president of the Johor Bus Operators Association (JBOA), Suchdav Jotisroop, said there was currently a shortage of about 1,500 express and city bus drivers.
He said the problem started four years ago with a shortage of 400 bus drivers and it has become worse now.
Last November, the Transport Ministry launched an initiative called the MyLesen Goods Driving Licence (GDL) to address the shortage of truck drivers. Those who signed up only had to pay RM1,655 (S$538) - almost RM1,000 less than the normal fee- for a course to get a Class E GDL.
Two months ago, Datuk Suchdav had appealed for the MyLesen programme, under the Road Transport Department, to be extended to Class E Public Service Vehicles (PSV).
He pointed out that the stronger Singapore currency was driving Malaysian bus drivers to work across the causeway, leaving only ageing drivers in Johor.
"The younger generation and university graduates refuse to enter this industry because of the long hours and perception that it does not pay well," he said on Tuesday (Nov 14).
A news report in September last year said that starting salaries for bus drivers in Singapore was just under S$2,000 (RM$6,158) a month.
He pointed out that there were about 85 bus companies operating in the state, with their drivers mostly between 40 and 70 years old.
Suchdav said a bus driver could make about RM2,500 a month, adding that this was a reasonable amount especially for those who are unemployed.
He said a PSV licence costs between RM2,000 and RM3,000 and took up to three months to obtain.
"We do not want a scenario where we are too pressed for bus drivers and they have no choice but to take on more trips," he said, adding that it could be dangerous to passengers and other road users.