KUCHING: Bus companies against fare structure, ticketing system at new depot.
Nearly all members of the Sarawak Bus Transport Companies Association (SBTCA) will not relocate from the old terminal to the new Kuching Sentral bus terminal unless some of the terms and conditions of the agreement with the new terminal management are changed.
The association has about 30 members throughout the state, and about half of them operate express bus service.
"The company has given us until Mar 15 to shift to the new bus terminal. We will stay put at the old terminal if the agreement is not reviewed. Only two bus companies have moved to the new bus terminal," said the association's vice-chairman Nelson Chiew at a press conference here yesterday.
So far, only two bus companies have agreed to move to the new terminal and the negotiation impasse looks set to continue unless a compromise is arrived at.
The main stumbling block to a solution seems to be the fare structure and centralised ticketing system proposed by Sentral Solution Sdn Bhd for the new Kuching Sentral bus terminal.
The association claimed that under the new system, bus fares would have to be increased by at least 10 per cent.
In addition, buying of tickets would become a more tedious process. He said instead of buying tickets straight from the bus companies, passengers would first have to buy a voucher from a counter manned by Sentral Solution
and then exchange the voucher for bus tickets from the bus company.
Chiew said that some of the proposed bus fares were even higher than the ceiling price approved by the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (LPKP).
"For instance, our bus fare for Kuching to Pontianak is priced at RM80 one way for ‘Super' and RM55 one way for ‘Economy', but, under the proposed fare structure it would have to be sold for RM85 and RM60 respectively.
"Kal Star (budget airline), on the other hand, is offering fares as low as RM98 one way, so how are we going to compete? We will lose our business!"
Using another example, he said the proposed fare for the Kuching-Sibu route was RM65 and RM55 one way for ‘VIP' and ‘Standard' respectively, but LPKP's approved rate is only RM60.10.
Chiew claimed the key reason why Sentral Solution Sdn Bhd was proposing the fare hike was because they were aiming for a 10 per cent commission on the bus fares.
"The company charges us no rental fee. They also allow us to use the covered parking free of charge. But, there are other charges, and the worst part is they have the right to review the charges at anytime they want.
"Our rough calculation shows that even if they collect a three per cent commission the company could get as much as RM400,000 per annum. Can you imagine how much they could get if they collect a 10 per cent commission?"
The public transport system, Chiew stressed, should be for the convenience of the people, especially those from the low-income group, and not to burden them.
"We would like to urge Sentral Solution to discard the proposed ticketing system. Let us decide on our own how ticketing should be handled."
Chiew declined to go into details on the design of the new terminal but hinted that certain aspects of it were a safety hazard for passengers.
Meanwhile, a press statement issued by SBTCA chairman Lau Khing Seng, which was distributed to reporters by Chiew, stated that bus operators were willing to pay "reasonable rental".
"The rental should be without any further commission or other additional charges for the use of the bus terminal, similar to the practice at the old bus terminal.
"Alternatively, the company reduces the commission from 10 per cent to five or 3 per cent, but without imposing additional rental or other charges. The commission would be paid by the bus companies, but there would be no additional charges to bus fares."
Lau said it was unfair for Sentral Solution to force bus companies to move out from the old bus terminal by Mar 1 when negotiations between them were still going on.
Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/03/01/new-terminal-higher-fares/#ixzz1noqsNbg3
--Courtesy of The Borneo Post Online