Safety star grading for bus operators on the cards

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 19): Local bus operators may be subject to a safety star grading programme to improve their service and ensure they are more focused and concerned with transport security issues, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

To date, only 20 bus operators have voluntarily participated in the Safety Star Grading (SSG) programme, which was introduced in 2013 by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS).

"This is a good programme, but we will study whether it should be made compulsory depending on its practicality," Loke told a media briefing during his visit to MIROS today.

Currently, the SSG programme accords a star rating based on the level of safety compliance by bus operators and is made on a voluntary basis. Through this programme, commuters will be able to assess the safety level of bus operators through the star rating obtained by the operator.

"At the same time, this will give a sense of competition for bus operators to improve their safety standards," Loke said, adding that eventually commuters will benefit the most from this programme as there will be transparent options available for them.

Meanwhile, academician Associate Professor Dr Ahmad Kamil Arshad, president of Peninsular Malaysia Bus Drivers Association Saa'dan Man, and executive editor of Sharim Tamrin have been appointed to the Recommendation Review Panel (RRP), which is tasked to monitor the implementation of 51 improvement recommendations outlined in the results of the investigation into the tragic bus crash in Genting Highlands in 2013. The accident had claimed 37 lives.

The RRP is led by Transport Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Saripuddin Kasim as chairman and MIROS chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye as co-chairman.

Following that, MIROS had conducted a detailed investigation and an independent advisory panel was established to review the results of the inquiry, which resulted in the 51 proposed improvements.

"We do not have to waste time researching or suggesting [anymore]. It is important now that we are implementing the proposal because there is already a complete report on the proposal. It is time for us to act," Loke said.

He added that an interim report by the RRP will be made public within the next three months to review all of the 51 proposals that have been made in the independent report.

"The RRP will issue an interim report to the public so that they will know what actions have been taken and what not," he said.