RM59.3 million spent on RM1 stage bus subsidy in S’wak, surpassing 10.5 million passengers since 2020

File photo of the hydrogen buses plying the streets of Kuching.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 24: The Sarawak government has spent nearly RM59.3 million in subsidies for the RM1 stage bus service, spanning from its initiation in May 2020 to September 2023, operating in Kuching, Sarikei, Sibu, Bintulu, and Miri.

Deputy Minister of Transport Datuk Dr Jerip Susil emphasised the positive impact of the stage bus service on the B40 and lower-income groups.

“In 2020, the government spent a total of RM5.23 million for this programme following the implementation of Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The subsidy expenditure increased to approximately RM12.12 million in 2021 and further to RM21.32 million in 2022, coinciding with the easing of MCO restrictions in May 2022.

“As of September this year, the total subsidy spent on the programme amounts to RM20.6 million,” he said in responding to Kabong assemblyman Mohd Chee Kadir during the Questions and Answers Session in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting today.

Dr Jerip elaborated that from May 2020 until September 2023, the service accommodated 10.5 million passengers.

The total ridership surged from 1.232 million in 2020 to 3.545 million in 2022, with this year’s ridership reaching 3.222 million in September.

Anticipating continued growth, he stated, “The projected ridership for 2023 is four million, based on the average increase in annual passenger movement since 2020. Most users benefiting from the RM1 stage bus service belong to the B40 group.”

Currently, 11 bus companies participate in providing the RM1 stage bus service, with three operating in both Kuching and Miri, five in Sibu, and one each in Bintulu and Sarikei. — DayakDaily