The Malaysian School Bus Association Alliance (GPBSM) yesterday said school bus operators were scrambling to decide on their fares following the hike in petrol prices by 20 sen.
This came about after Perak School Bus (Chinese) Association said it would increase school bus fares even though the government has warned against the move.
On Friday, Selangor Child Nurseries Association said fees for nurseries would go up between RM10 and RM50 following a hike in operational cost.
GPBSM president Mohd Rofik Yusof said fares were not supposed to be raised but the increase in petrol and diesel prices have caused school bus operators to reconsider.
“Operators from all over the country have been calling me to ask what can be done,” he said.
“The fares are regulated between parents and the operators, and fares have to be fixed in the beginning of the year. It cannot be changed during the middle of the year.”
Rofik said operators have to be considerate when raising bus fares, adding the hike should be between RM5 and RM10.
“I told my fellow operators, if they want to raise, talk to parents and don’t hike the price as they please. If a family has four or five children, then raise the price for one child only,” he said.
“We want to help parents also because they have other costs to bear. But parents need to remember that bus operators, at the end of the day, are doing business also.”
Commenting on a warning by the Transport Ministry on bus operators who raise fares, Rofik said the warning was for those who raised fares between RM20 and RM30.
“I think that’s why they (ministry) said they will observe and take action on bus operators,” he said.
“The price hike is not just because it is a new school year, but it’s to increase the price to cover the increase in operating costs.”
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi warned school bus operators they would face action if they raised fares.
Aziz said the ministry would not allow school bus operators to increase fares while the people are burdened by the rising cost of living, adding those who raised fares could have their licences revoked.
In Perak, however, school bus operators are going ahead with its price hike when school reopens tomorrow.
Declining to reveal the margin of increase, Perak School Bus (Chinese) Association chairman, Wong Kee Yuen, said it depends on negotiations between the drivers and parents.
“Everything has increased. From petrol to bus spare parts. We also have to pay GST. How are we to survive if we do not increase bus fares?” asked Wong.
He said parents had been informed of the association’s decision to increase the price and they were receptive towards it.
“If the increase is minor, they are agreeable,” he said.
Asked about Aziz’s warning to school bus operators, Wong questioned how could action be taken.
“The Land Public Transport Commission deregulated school bus fares and left it to operators to negotiate with parents. I don’t see a problem if parents are agreeable to the new fares.”
In Selangor, the Child Nurseries Association chairman Mahanom Basri said the last time fees for nurseries were increased were in 2013 when the government introduced minimum wage.
Mahanom had said that nursery operators were struggling to cope with operational costs as well as having to comply with health and safety regulations set by the government.
“If we continue to use the old rates, there is a possibility most childcare centres will be forced to close,” she said.
Source : SYLVIA LOOI, SOO WERN JUN AND VANESSA EE-LYN GOMES @ The Malay Mail Online