SINGAPORE: A group of school bus operators has reportedly warned that bus fares may have to rise again, as the Government’s approval to hire more foreign drivers will help ease short-term demand but won’t solve the long-term problems they are grappling with.
Since June this year, 14 bus operators have been approved to hire additional foreign employees. The Ministry of Education is assessing applications from more operators.
One bus operator, which transports students to 13 schools islandwide, told Channel 8 news that being allowed to hire more foreign drivers has helped it replace retiring drivers and bring some school buses back into service.
However, the industry pointed out that the approval to hire more foreign workers will expire before the end of 2025, and the new foreign employees can only work locally for two years. There will again be a shortage of drivers in two years.
Bus operators facing this dim future hope that more Singaporeans and permanent residents will join the industry to alleviate the driver shortage.
To make matters worse, the private bus industry is also facing other cost pressures, with unstable fuel fees and a high vehicle ownership certificate fee that can cost at least $80,000.
Bus operators say rising costs have been eating into their profits over the past few years. Calling the high costs unsustainable, operators say that this may mean that school bus fares may be adjusted again.