GEORGE TOWN: Despite the downward trend of fuel prices, parents in Penang may have to fork out at least another RM5 in monthly schoolbus fares next year.
Penang School Bus Association Loh Choon Beng said the increase in fares was inevitable as schoolbus operators could not cover their expenses.
“Fuel prices may be dropping, but everything else is not. They keep going up.
“Unless we get more diesel subsidies, we cannot afford to reduce the fares,” he said at the association’s 41st anniversary celebration Tuesday night.
Parents are now paying RM43.20 for hiring a schoolbus and operators charge another RM1.50 per km one-way. Parents would pay RM46.20 per month if the child’s school is about 1km away.
Loh said schoolbus operators wanted the subsidised diesel to be reduced by RM0.43 more to RM1 per litre.
“If we can get diesel at RM1 per litre, we do not have to impose higher fares,” he claimed, adding that if the Federal Government did not consider their plea, schoolbus operators may consider going on strike.
Loh said the operators were already shouldering heavy financial burdens due to the the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) that requires all schoolbuses over 20 years old to be replaced with new ones.
“It is not cheap replacing schoolbuses. A small one for 34 people costs RM120,000; a medium-sized one for 45 passengers costs RM250,000 and a large one for 66 costs RM400,000,” he said.
Loh said the ruling also made it hard for operators to get their buses insured, as insurance companies refused to cover their over 20-year-old buses.
“To get the buses insured, the operators have to pay three times the premium and have a personal accident scheme for their drivers.
“The CVLB ruling affects a majority of schoolbus operators nationwide, as 70% of the 102,000 schoolbuses are hitting 20 years,” he said.
State Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow, who was also present at the dinner, encouraged the association to meet with the state government and local authorities to discuss their problems.
He said it was important for schoolbuses to continue their services to the community.
“Penang, although with a 1.5 million population, has 1.7 million registered vehicles.
Read the full article:http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?fi ... sec=nation