KOTA KINABALU: School bus fares may be increased by RM10 to RM20 when the new school terms begins next year, said Sabah West Coast School Bus Association president Robert Chin.
Chin explained that operators were facing a huge burden in fluctuating fuel prices, as well as increasing costs in spare parts and maintenance for school buses.
In fact, he said the repair and maintenance costs for school buses had doubled.
“As such, we are most likely going to increase the bus fares next year.
“However, this has not been finalized yet as we are still discussing this matter.
“We shall come to a decision whether to increase the fares next week,” Chin said when contacted yesterday.
He said operators would face difficulty if they were to maintain the bus fares in view of the high operating costs.
Chin said the association had over 300 members but only around 200 of them were active.
Some of the members had ceased to operate as their school buses had reached the age limit, he said.
Furthermore, Chin said the association had not received new memberships due to the difficulty in operating school buses amid the uncertain economy.
He hoped that the government could consider extending the age limit of school buses beyond 30 years.
“Acquiring a new school bus requires high costs. It is difficult for operators to replace their school buses with the rising repair costs,¡¨ he lamented.
Meanwhile, Sabah West Coast School Bus Association vice president Kelvin Chia stressed that the association did not interfere with the bus fares charged by its members.
“It parents cannot afford the bus fares, they could negotiate with the operators and decide on a fare which both parties agree upon.”
Nonetheless, Chia hoped that parents could be more understanding towards the plight of school bus operators as they had to bear increasing living costs as well.
Although the government provided diesel subsidy for school bus operators, he said only a few received the benefit.
Additionally, Chia said operators were faced with the challenge of having their permits cancelled when their school buses reached the age limit of 30 years.
He said majority of school bus operators were 40 years old and above, who probably would not be able to secure bank loans to purchase a new school bus due to their age.
The Federation of Malaysian School Bus Operators recently said that the association did not rule out the possibility that bus fares would be raised when the new school term begins next year.
Its president Mohd Rofik Mohd Yusof said an increase of RM10 was expected in rural areas while urban folks would have to pay an additional RM20 due to rising operating costs.