School bus operators drop plan to fix fares

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KUALA LUMPUR: School bus operators have decided to drop their plan to collectively increase school bus fares next year, in view of a warning issued by the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC).

Malaysian School Bus Association Alliance (GPBSM) president Mohd Rofiq Mohd Yusof said that it respects the decisions of the MyCC and Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) on the matter.

MyCC had recently warned school bus operators against price-fixing, after SPAD decided early this month to deregulate fares due to rising costs.

Mohd Rofiq, however, expressed concern over the possible repercussions as there were no proper guidelines for bus operators to work on.

He said following this latest development, there have been a number of complaints from school bus operators who were confused by how much to increase their fares.

“The alliance is now leaving it to them to decide on this with a condition that everything needs to be discussed between them and the parents,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

He said the price hike was unavoidable and would definitely take place early next year as the last increment was done in 2009.

“The fuel price has gone up many times since 2009 but the school bus fare remains the same. So, it is high time for a new fare structure,” said Mohd Rofiq.

Currently, the flag-off rate for school buses is at RM27.43, with RM2.02 for every subsequent kilometre.

Those operating in rural areas can charge RM20.61 for the first kilometre and RM2.02 per subsequent kilometre.

“Some operators might take advantage of the new ruling. Those operating in areas where the demand is higher than supply will definitely take the upper hand,” Mohd Rofiq said.

He explained that the initial proposal of a fixed 30% increase was done to ensure the parents would not be burdened by the hike.

GPBSM is a body representing some 10,000 school bus operators out of about 13,000 school bus operators in the country.

He said GPBSM’s state representatives have already been notified of the latest development and advised parents who are not satisfied with the new increment to lodge complaints with the relevant authorities. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 27, 2014.