KUCHING: The state government’s free school bus service programme is expected to handle around 3,000 ridership per day when schools here reopen this Aug 3, said Yayasan Sarawak director Azmi Bujang.
He said a total of 46 buses and vans will be serving 22 routes covering 18 zones in Kuching.
The zones are Zone A for Kuching City Centre; Zone B (Satok); Zone C (Matang); Zone D (Pending); Zone E (Buntal); Zone F (Semariang Pinggir/Batu, Sungai Midin and Semerah Padi; Zone G (Jalan Merdeka); Zone H (Gita Laut); Zone I (Taman Lee Ling); Zone J (SK Muhibbah); Zone K (Pulau Salak, Pasir Panjang and Pasir Pandak); Zone L (Jalan Astana); Zone M (Rampangi); Zone N (Malihah); Zone O (Boyan, Gersik and Sourabaya Ulu); Zone P (Desa Wira); Zone Q (Tabuan); and Zone R (Bako).
“Each bus can carry about 40 students while some vans can bring 13 and 20 students. If we were to divide this capacity by the number of trips per day, we can have about 3,000 ridership per day.
“If we can have 1,500 students, that means we take away at least a few hundred cars on the road and this can help to reduce traffic congestion, in addition to the programme’s main objective of reducing the financial burden of low-income families,” he said when briefing the media on the programme at Yayasan Sarawak Auditorium, here yesterday.
Yayasan Sarawak has been tasked with implementing the programme in collaboration with city councils such as Kuching North City Commission (DBKU), Kuching South City Council (MBKS) and Padawan Municipal Council (MPP), as well as Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), Sarawak Education Department and the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).
The Kuching-Samarahan Division Bumiputera School Bus Operators Association has been appointed as the service provider.
Azmi said the buses will operate on three schedules, namely from 5.30am to 7am, 11.30am to 2.30pm, and 5.30pm to 7pm depending on the zones.
“We have also developed a tracking system using an app called ‘Sarawak School Bus Service’ which can be downloaded for iOS and Android phones to help students, parents and even teachers monitor the bus in real time.
“Apart from that, the app also helps us to monitor and track the buses so we will know whether a bus is late and so on,” he added.
He also said each bus will be marked with the ‘Free School Bus Service’ stickers on the front, back and sides for identification.
“Besides that, local councils such as MBKS have come up with a designated bus stop for these school buses.
“It takes time for local councils to have all these facilities. This is a long-haul programme, so once decided, the local authorities will reciprocate by allocating a budget to build more bus stops for the buses.”
He added that the buses operate on a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ basis where bus drivers will stop at a location on a particular route where they deem fit to stop safely for students to board the bus.
On the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be complied with for students when boarding the buses, Azmi said students have to adhere to SOP as usual.
“Parents also play a role and make sure that before their children board the bus, they must ensure that they comply with the SOP and that they wear masks at all times,” he said.