SIBU: Chairman of Sarawak Bus Transport Company Association, Lau Khing Seng, has responded to public complaints about the sudden increase in the fares of express buses.
After buses resumed operations two weeks ago, commuters were shocked by the sudden hike in fares.
The operations were suspended for about three months following the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bus fare from Sibu to Mukah is now RM22, up from RM20 previously.
The others went up from RM25 to RM29 for the Mukah-Bintulu route, RM50 to RM57 (Mukah-Miri), RM65 to RM82 (Mukah-Kuching), RM25 to RM29 (Mukah-Bintulu), and RM50 to RM57 (Mukah-Miri).
Bus tickets for Sibu-to-outstation trips have also seen an increase. The Sibu-Kuching fare is now RM60 from RM50 previously.
However ticket for the Mukah-Sarikei route remained at RM30 while Mukah-Kuching route also remained at RM65.
“The new fares were already approved by the State Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board in 2009 except that we did not implement them,” explained Lau yesterday.
He added that bus companies were only charging the new fares due to poor business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Buses are now allowed to carry the full passenger capacity of 38 persons, but there are now only between seven and eight passengers in each bus. Because of this, we have to implement the new fares so as to reduce our losses,” he said.
Even with half passenger volume, bus companies could only break-even.
“We are already incurring huge losses with low passenger volume. But like it or not, we still have to operate,” he said.
As an illustration, he said if there were no passengers for the Sibu to Mukah route, the bus would still have to run if people had already bought their return tickets.
“This is the worst time in 50 years for bus companies in the state. At this moment, we don’t know how long the situation will drag on. We can only hope that it will be back to normal soonest,” he said.