Low passenger volumes drive up expressbus fare

SIBU, June 27: Chairman of Sarawak Bus Transport Company Association, Lau Khing Seng has clarified on the new expressbus fare following complaints from the public.

After bus companies resumed operation two weeks ago, commuters were shocked with what many have said was a sudden hike in the fare.

The operations were suspended for about three months following the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The bus fare from Sibu to Mukah is now RM22 from RM20 previously.

Others are RM25 to RM 29 for the Mukah-Bintulu route, RM50 to RM57 for the Mukah-Miri route, Mukah-Kuching route had now increased from RM65 to RM82, Mukah-Bintulu fare from RM25 to RM29 and Mukah-Miri fare from RM50 to RM57.

Bus ticket for journey from Sibu to outstation have also seen an increase. The Sibu-Kuching fare is now RM60 from RM50 previously.

However ticket prices for the Mukah-Sarikei route remained at RM30 while Mukah-Kuching route also remained at RM65.

“The new fares were already approved by the State Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board in 2009 except that we did not implement it,” explained Lau

He added that bus companies are only charging the new fares due to poor business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Buses are now allowed to carry the full passenger capacity of 38 persons. But there are now only between 7 to 8 passengers in each bus. Because of this, we have to implement the new fare so as to reduce our losses,” he said.

Even with half passenger volume, bus companies could only break-even.

“We are already making huge losses with low passenger volume. But like it or not, we still have to operate,” he said.

As an illustration, he said if there were no passengers for the Sibu to Mukah route, the bus will still have to go to Mukah if people had already bought the ticket from the return route.

“This is the worst time in 50 years for bus companies in the state. At this moment, we don’t know how long this will drag on. We can only hope that the situation will be back to normal soonest,” he said.—DayakDaily