KUCHING: The RM1 flat rate bus fare launched by the Sarawak government has received fairly good response from passengers thus far, said Sarawak Bus Transport Companies Association (SBTCA) honorary secretary William Chan.
According to him, the initial target of ridership was between 10 and 20 per cent during this Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) period, but the actual ridership recorded was between 30 and 40 per cent.
“The response is considered good because we expected about 10 to 20 per cent of ridership during RMCO but thanks to the RM1 flat rate fare, we have got about 30 to 40 per cent.
“Hopefully with the reopening of schools, the ridership will pick up and go up to 50 to 60 per cent,” he told The Borneo Post in an telephone interview here today.
The RM1 flat rate fare is being implemented in major towns in Sarawak namely Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Sarikei.
The bus companies that are involved in the project are Bau Transport Company Sdn Bhd, City Public Link Bus Sdn Bhd, Petra Jaya Transport (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd and Biaramas Express Sdn Bhd.
Chan said even though the RM1 flat rate fare was announced in May and had commenced during the RMCO early last month, many people remained unaware of the good policy.
He pointed out that even though the flat rate fare is beneficial to the community particularly the B40 group, it seemed that quite a number of people still had no clue about it.
“Regardless of the distance you travel, for as long as you hop on the bus, it’s RM1 per trip. This is beneficial to those who travel long distance, as they only need pay RM1 for the trip that costs RM2 to RM3.
“But a lot of people are still not aware of this RM1 fare (initiative). Only when they get on the bus did they realise it’s RM1,” he said.
He disclosed that SBTCA had recently signed an agreement with the Sarawak government to run the RM1 flat rate fare initiative until end of the year.
Chan said there were about 120 units of buses owned by the companies involved, and due to RMCO, the running capacity stood at 60 to 70 units.
Responding to complaints of infrequency of services, he said bus operators had the tendency of getting such complaint but they could not do much if the complainants did not provide details such as bus company, route, date and time.
“We urge the public to provide us with specific information like area, date and time otherwise it would difficult for us to monitor or understand what you are talking about because there are situations whereby the bus breaks down.”
When asked on the usual waiting time, Chan said: “It depends on the area, usually 30 minutes to an hour.”
He hoped that the ridership would pick up along the way and the bus companies would be able to run at an increased or full capacity.
He also appealed to individuals who had any complaint with regards to the infrequency of bus services to drop an email at [email protected]