Higher starting pay for Go-Ahead's bus drivers

New bus operator is the third to raise salary; it will operate 25 routes in the east later this year

New bus operator Go-Ahead Singapore is raising the pay of its drivers, making it the third and latest operator to do so.

The company said yesterday it will increase the minimum basic starting salary for all its Singaporean and permanent resident bus captains to $1,950 per month, from $1,865 previously, with immediate effect. This applies to bus captains who have already joined the company and recruits.

In May, new operator Tower Transit raised its starting pay to $1,930 a month, up 3.5 per cent. And last month, largest bus operator SBS Transit raised its starting pay to $1,950, up more than 9 per cent from $1,775 previously.

In a Facebook post, National Transport Workers' Union executive secretary Melvin Yong backed the move "to keep the compensation package for our bus workers competitive".

The union has been working closely with public bus operators to ensure fair and competitive wages and build a safe and conducive working environment for drivers.

Mr Yong said the union was pleased to note that Go-Ahead Singapore has recruited many local bus captains, with many living in Pasir Ris, Punggol and Sengkang, near the routes which the firm will be operating.

From the third quarter of this year, Go-Ahead Singapore will start operating 25 bus routes in the eastern Loyang district for five years. Its buses will serve areas such as Pasir Ris, Punggol, Changi, Tampines, Bedok and Sengkang. Go-Ahead Singapore has hired 655 bus captains so far, with a target of recruiting and training 700 by the third quarter. Mr Yong said: "They are building a strong Singaporean core in their workforce through their targeted recruitment approach."

He said the union will continue to work with the Land Transport Authority and public bus operators to attract more locals to the industry.

Go-Ahead Singapore's managing director Nigel Wood said: "We want to enable our bus captains to grow both professionally and personally, and the updated salary will further complement the existing benefits that are already available to our bus captains."

In this string of wage hikes, second-largest bus operator SMRT has yet to follow suit. When contacted, SMRT's vice-president of human resources Gerard Koh said: "We are working with the National Transport Workers' Union to ensure total remuneration and benefits for our bus captains remain competitive."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline 'Higher starting pay for Go-Ahead's bus drivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe