Monday, June 9, 2008

Bus fares to get half-yearly reviews

Tuesday June 10, 2008 THESTAR


PUTRAJAYA: Bus fares will be reviewed every six months, instead of once every few years.

Commercial Vehicle and Licensing Board director Naimah Ramli said this was decided at the Cabinet Committee on Public Transportation meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last month.

“This does not mean that fares will go up every six months. The Government will just review the fares, and decide if there should be a hike or to maintain the rates,” she said.

Deputy Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the Government would decide whether to raise or maintain the fares for public transportation after a research paper is presented to the Cabinet.

“We have done a survey over the past year to look at the contributing factors (to rising public transportation costs). We cannot simply announce a new pricing table overnight,” he told reporters.

Asked when the paper would be tabled to the Cabinet, he said they would “try to present it by the end of this month”.

On a question whether it was fair to prevent companies from raising their fares when their cost of operations had shot up, Saifuddin advised operators to be patient and to follow the approved fares set by the Government.

On cases of bus tickets being sold above the approved price, he said 41 bus permits had been forfeited between June 6 and 8 for various offences committed.

Meanwhile, Konsortium Transnasional Bhd managing director Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh said that unless the Government allows a huge increase in fares, the industry might fall into a state of anarchy.

“At the last review in May 2005, the rate of subsidised diesel was 71 sen per litre. The subsidised rate now is RM1.43, which is a 100% increase.

“This has translated to my company incurring additional expenses of RM35mil a year. For the first time, my company is in the red,” he said.

Nadzmi said although they receive subsidised diesel at full quota, they needed “at least a 60% fare increase to break even or incur just a small loss”.

He added that the bus fare in Indonesia at eight sen a km was higher than Malaysia’s, which is 6.5 sen per km.

He said unless a significant increase was approved, operators would stop following the law to survive.

“You can put 100 enforcement officers today. Can you do the same everyday?” said Nadzmi.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Datuk Ashfar Ali concurred with Nadzmi, saying that diesel constituted about 30% of operational costs.

“The subsidised rate has gone up, but our fares have not. Our drivers get annual increments, while the cost of spare parts and labour has also gone up,” he said.

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