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SIBU, March 11: Stage bus operators need permanent information counters to display bus travel times and to facilitate passengers or tourists, says Deputy Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government II Michael Tiang.
He said the operators informed that many years ago, Sibu Municipal Council (SMC), Sarawak Bus Transport Companies Association and Sibu Taxi Owners’ Association had once agreed to renovate the station after several meetings.
“The operators also emphasised that the last time the bus fare increased was in 2009.
“The association had applied to have the fare increase many times, but none of the applications were approved,” he said in a statement today.
These are among the current problems faced by bus operators in Sibu and relayed to Tiang during a dialogue session at the meeting with members of ‘GPS Team for New Sibu’ held in Sibu yesterday (March 10).
Tiang, who is also Pelawan assemblyman further said for the past 13 years, the wages, bus maintenance work and so forth had increased between 30 per cent to 60 per cent.
“Because of that, 18 out of 30 bus companies in Sarawak had no choice but to close because they were unable to cope,” he said, adding that employees had to be laid off due to the closure.
Tiang also made to understand that currently, there are only 12 express bus companies left.
Additionally, he said the RM1 ticket scheme implemented by Sarawak government was only to support the stage bus operators to continue operating but the subsidy was not given to express bus operators.
“Operators of course hoped that Sarawak government would not stop giving the subsidies to allow the stage bus operators to continue to operate,” he said.
Tiang also took note that as times have changed, most people have their own cars or at least a motorcycle to commute.
However, the operators believed that the middle-income and lower-income groups still need the bus services as a mode of transportation.
As for long-distance operators, they complained that the parking spaces at the terminal were often taken up by other motorists and it was not fair for operators who are paying the rent.
“I hope that the relevant authorities would take this matter seriously, take action against those vehicles who take up the space and maybe give operators free parking,” he said.
The bus operators also hoped that SMC would upgrade the sinking bus parking space at the bus terminal. — DayakDaily