Poor numbers force bus companies to consider pooling passengers

Buses parked at Sibu Bus Terminal. (file photo)

SIBU, June 10: Trunk road bus companies are mulling pooling passenger loads to reduce losses incurred from low passenger volume as the Recovery Movement Control Order (MCO) starts today.

“For example, if Bus A which is travelling from Sibu to Bintulu has only two passengers but Bus B has five passengers, then the two passengers frpm Bus A will take Bus B instead,” explained Sarawak Bus Transport Company Association chairman Lau Khing Seng.

Since trunk road bus service resumed last week, bus companies in the state struggled with extremely low passenger volume, he highlighted.

Lau disclosed despite there being only two to three passengers in most busses per trip, the bus companies continued to stick to their trip schedule, and so were racking up losses.

“We can only break even if our buses are 50 per cent full,” he added.

Lau attibuted the poor response to the previous requirement for passengers to obtain travel permits from the police for inter-district travel, which was time-consuming and approval was not assured.

Even with the lifting of this requirement and inter-district travel now allowed, Lau expects demand for bus services to take months to recovery.

Yesterday, State Disaster Management Committee chairman Datuk Amar Douglas in his daily Covid-19 briefing, announced that inter-district travel throughout the state and inter-state travel across Malaysia will be allowed from today as the state enters RMCO.

“It’s good that inter-district travel is now permitted. But for us, it will take a few months before we can even think of breaking even or making profit as most companies and factories are either not operating at full scale or have not resumed operation. This has a spill-over effect on us as the workers will not be using bus services yet,” he lamented.

On another matter, Lau urged the government to make it mandatory for insurance companies to accept bus companies’ insurance policy renewal applications.

“We are now finding it difficult to renew our bus insurance policy as the MMIP (Malaysia Motor Insurance Pool) has continuously rejected us. Without insurance, we cannot renew the bus road tax and without road tax we cannot operate the bus,” he said.

Lau said even when a bus has been inspected and approved by Puspakom, MMIP would still rejected the application. — DayakDaily