Private bus company operators should be allowed to charge higher fares so drivers can be better paid, Public Land Transport Commission (Spad) chairperson Syed Hamid Albar said today.
A higher basic salary, Syed Hamid said, would discourage drivers from "chasing trips" for commissions to boost their income.
"We (Spad) have told operators that this (commission system) is not satisfactory…if they do that, it will encourage their workers to chase trips," he said.
"Chasing trips" is a common term to describe bus drivers taking on trips back to back, to earn more commission.
Syed Hamid said this in response to Pagoh crash, which saw an express bus travelling north plunge down a 20-metre ravine at Km137.3 of North-South Expressway on Dec 24.
Among the 14 killed include the bus driver and his child, while his wife was among the 16 others injured.
"To me, if we (the government) control their (private operators) bus fares but demand that they pay higher salaries, they will close shop. They cannot afford it," Syed Hamid said.
"We have to allow them to be flexible… the government till today still controls bus fares, even for express buses," he said, noting that bus operators are private firms.
"When taxis increased their fares, they (private bus operators) were not allowed to raise (their fares).
"So we (Spad) recommend an increase in fares because we think that this is the private sector, we should let them survive. We encourage them (bus operators) to pay better salaries," he said.Syed Hamid, who is also the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) special envoy to Myanmar, said this at a press conference at a community centre for Rohingya refugees in Selayang.
Referring to the Johor crash, Syed Hamid also confirmed that Spad has suspended the bus company's operating licence as it awaits the outcome of investigations by the other authorities.
The last government review for express bus fares was reportedly conducted in 2009.
A proposed review last year only saw an increase in taxi fares, while the proposal to increase express bus fares was postponed indefinitely.- Mkini