KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — School bus associations have given an assurance that they will not burden parents by an impending fare hike, said Federation of School Bus Associations Malaysia (FSBAM) president Amali Munif Rahmat.
He said the overall increase in school bus fares would not be the same in general because it was based on the area and the status of the local community since Jan 1, 2015, when the government did not control school bus fares, causing the amount to depend on the market.
“For this fare increase, the associations can only give advice and guidelines to operators who usually depend on the profit and loss statements, as well as the agreement between school bus operators and parents.
“Based on the records we have, school bus fares are currently between RM50, for example in Keramat, while for elite areas such as Damansara and Petaling Jaya, it can reach RM300 a month,” he told Bernama here today.
Earlier, the media had reported that parents need to be prepared for an increase in school bus fares in the Klang Valley which is expected to start next week or July due to the sharp increase in maintenance costs and vehicle spare parts.
Commenting further, Amali Munif said the cost of the fare increase involved a count of 44 students boarding a bus in a month, which is a maximum of 22 days with two trips a day and according to the rate, it is still considered to be at a low fare level.
A school bus operator around Damansara, Mohd Zaid Zainuddin, 50, said a fare increase of an average of RM15 to RM25 a month could be considered as many school bus operators had folded up and switched to other jobs.
“So far we have given the heads-up to the parents. Discussions on fare increases were also made so that they will not be caught by surprise by this change. Some of them understand and agree with this effort and ask that the rate of increase is not too significant (stays to the proposed RM10 to RM15 increase only),” he said.
Meanwhile, school van operator, Shahrul Aidit Ahmad, 48, who has been taking school children using vans around Kelana Jaya, Selangor for 20 years, said the increase was necessary as the cost of maintenance and servicing the vehicles involved had doubled after in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Like it or not, at the moment we are faced with price increases, including the cost of maintenance and imported vehicle spare parts, especially after the Movement Control Orders (MCOs).
According to him, at present, the average fare is based on the distance from home to school of about two kilometres (km) to 3km with a value of RM50 for one way for each month, in other words about RM100 per month for a student for a return trip.
Concerned about the problem, Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) charman, Datuk Nadzim Johan said the government should have a formulation with measures to provide subsidies to school bus operators to reduce the impact of fare increases in various aspects.
“The method of providing the subsidy can be done in various ways such as claims that can be made from the government or provide other benefits such as premium savings or credit that can be converted to other things that are suitable for the use of school bus operators,” he said.
The matter also caught the attention of the National Parents and Teachers Association (PIBGN) president, Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hasan who suggested that the government set a ceiling price to ensure that fare increases are not made arbitrarily to burden parents.
“The government also needs to think about subsidies for vehicles, especially among regular users of school buses, who mostly consist of B40 and M40 households,” he said. — Bernama