SINGAPORE: “MOE says 13% increase, and they increase more than 30%,” a concerned parent has taken to social media to rant about an alleged 30 per cent increase in a school bus operator’s price.
According to the post, the initial price of $130 was increased to $200 for a one-way, 9-minute journey.
On Wednesday (Dec 20), the concerned parent took to the Complaint Singapore group to leave a post that began with her asking other parents if they have had similar experiences with their children’s school bus service providers, citing an increase of over 30 per cent.
“Any parents with kids taking (a) school bus,” the individual wrote before asking, “Did the school bus operator increase their fees (by) more than 30 (per cent)?”
“Ours was $130 and increased to $200,” the parent claimed, stressing that the route was “for one way only (from school to student care). Only a nine-minute journey, less than 3 km.”
The post claimed that when asked about the increase, the school bus service provider gave the parent the option to discontinue availing of the service.
“We are at their mercy as when we asked why was there such a high increase, the school bus operator (said) (we) can choose to drop out if we think it’s too expensive,” the parent stated.
In a recent parliamentary reply to MP Denise Phua Lay Peng (Jalan Besar GRC) regarding the Ministry of Education’s announcement “to allow an increase in the pricing cap of school bus fares of up to 13 per cent,” the Minister for Education explained the process by which such fares are determined.
“School bus fares are determined through a competitive bidding process, with a fixed pricing cap during the contract period,” he said.
“However, the recent increase in operating costs and manpower shortages have made it more challenging for school bus operators to sustain their operations. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is thus allowing school bus operators to increase the pricing cap of school bus fares for mainstream schools under existing contracts by up to 13% with effect from 1 January 2024.”
He added, “This is part of the larger effort to keep the school bus sector sustainable and minimise the risk of disruptions and inconvenience to parents and students.”
With regard to questions about how the families of students, especially those who need access to higher special education needs, he said:
“In Jan 2023, the school bus subsidy under the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme was raised from 60% of monthly school bus fares to 65% to take into account rising school bus fares. In situations where low-income families need more help, the schools have been and will continue to provide additional financial support.
For SPED schools, eligible students taking school bus services can apply for the Enabling Transport Subsidy (ETS) administered by SG Enable.