|Datuk Nadzim Johan of the Muslim Consumers’ Association (PPIM) said this is a move that will serve as an encouragement for the transport industry and it will also avoid any disparity and confusion among the public.|
The Land Public Transport Commission’s (SPAD) move to temporarily allow a special 10% increase over the usual express bus trips fares for the upcoming festive season should be made permanent.
Datuk Nadzim Johan of the Muslim Consumers’ Association (PPIM) said this is a move that will serve as an encouragement for the transport industry and it will also avoid any disparity and confusion among the public.
He also questioned the justification for a temporary hike, saying that as it had been a while since public transportation had seen any increase in its pricing, it was high time for the government to “inject some spirit back into the industry”.
“What is the point of temporarily increasing the price? If you’re going to do so, make it permanent instead of short term as the way it is now, it appears that SPAD is merely implementing a half measure to keep the bus operators satisfied for the time being.
“The hike is something that is long overdue and it is not that much. While I understand the public’s concern, I also sympathise with the operators as I know that their profit margin is not much,” said Nadzim when contacted by The Rakyat Post today.
He added that the government should follow in the footsteps of other developed countries that have introduced and implemented some form of incentives that keep its transport industry alive and thriving.
The incentives he said, can be in any form including a subsidy for petrol or toll.
“Bite the bullet. The hike, if made permanent, will result in a public outrage but allowing the hike to be implemented only temporarily will not be good to both the operators and the consumers.
“If the government is worried of the possible implications, they can help keep the costs low for the operators by either subsidising them, or maybe, allow them to operate tax free,” he suggested.
According to a statement by SPAD yesterday, the special fare was allowed to ensure express bus services were not interrupted in the upcoming festive season.
It also said that the approval was given after taking into account the need to meet the growing demand for express bus services during festive seasons when extra buses are required.
“This is good, for short term. But at the moment the government has given no incentives to the bus operators and for so long they have been side-lined, left behind and this has resulted in the industry being non-profitable.
“A while back, the government promised to increase the fares for taxis and the bus operators but as we can see, the taxi agencies got what they were promised but not the bus operators,” added Nadzim.
He called for the government to take some time and review the current pricing mechanisms put in place for the bus operators, saying that a long term solution is what the industry really needs.