Regulating school-bus fares not the answer

Pupils boarding a school bus at a school in Singapore.
Pupils boarding a school bus at a school in Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

The issue of school-bus fares is only part of a larger systemic problem (Parents call for regulation of school-bus fares, services, Feb 22).

The regulation of bus fares on its own will not end in a happy and affordable experience for parents and bus operators.

School-bus operators are running a business, and have to maximise the use of their vehicles in order to keep fees lower.

What could end up happening is that bus operators have to serve more than one school during the day, and may take longer routes to fill up the bus and make it viable.

This would mean picking children up very early and dropping them off long before the start of school assembly, so they can move on to the next school or route.

This could come at the cost of the child's health, as he may get less sleep and go long hours without eating anything substantial.

Alternative solutions could include getting pre-schools to start later in the day, so bus operators would have time to ferry primary and secondary school children before they start their pre-school routes.

Similarly, we could get either primary or secondary schools to start earlier than the other, so a bus would have time to ferry students to both.

Any solution is unlikely to meet everyone's needs, but at the very least we can align the solutions to an overarching outcome - healthier and more attentive children in school.

Kishor Bhagwat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2019, with the headline 'Regulating school-bus fares not the answer'. Print Edition | Subscribe