Buy us out, bus firms tell M'sian govt

Patrick Lee in Petaling Jaya/The Star
Asia News Network

Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Once again, stage bus companies are pleading to the Government to buy them out, or at least level the playing field.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said that it was hard for them to compete with government-owned transport companies such as Prasarana.

"PMBOA feels that private operators have lost economic freedom due to a lack of a playing field," he said.

Mohamad then asked the Government to give them "the right" to exit the industry, with fair compensation.

He cited the Malacca formula, a recent move by the Malacca state government to acquire all stage bus operations.

The Malacca government moved in to help the state bus operators after the companies appealed to the government for help over a year ago.

The formula, Mohamad said, would calculate the value of all existing private stage buses, and compensate operators and their workers accordingly.

If this route could not be taken, he suggested that the Government manage bus corridors so that there was fair competition between public and private companies.

He said it was hard enough without promises of national bus companies on the way, such as Rapid's future expansion into Kota Baru and other cities.

As an example, Mohamad said that three bus companies had to close down when the RapidKuantan moved in late last year.

"Since it is clear that Rapid is to nationalise the stage bus industry, then it is only fair to compensate operators who do not or cannot continue and want to cease operations," he said.

In recent years, private bus companies have had to shut down their routes, leaving passengers stranded.

It was reported that the Government intends to come up with publicly-funded transport companies, such as Rapid Kota Baru, for areas with transit problems.

The PMBOA represents 130 bus companies and over 3,200 buses nationwide.