Low wages gets bad drivers, but higher fares might bring in better drivers. This is the idea behind the government considering a 10% to 30% increase in express bus fares, reported by the Malay Mail.

Deputy transport minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar told parliament today that low wages forces express bus drivers to work more than eight hours a day just to claim overtime.

“The reason behind the accidents and low quality bus drivers when compared to other countries is due to their low salary. Their average take home income is around RM3,000 including their allowance. They don’t have a good working environment either and we discourage them from working more than eight hours. That’s the reason the quality of their driving has gone down. That’s why we are considering raising the bus express fares in a reasonable manner.

“If the express bus service operator earns more, they can raise the drivers’ salaries and the drivers have better working conditions. We hope their service and quality will improve, leading to fewer accidents,” Kamarudin said, in reply to a question by Kapar MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid.

The last time express bus fares were raised was in 2009. Then, fares went up 31% from 6.5 sen to 8.5 sen per kilometre. In 2015, the government green-lighted a surchage of 0.8 sen per km, leading to the current rate of 9.3 sen per km.

The report says that Kamarudin is aware of the pressure from express bus operators for a fare increase, but the government must at the same time consider whether or not passengers can afford it. It adds that 60% of the B40 and M40 groups use express buses for medium and long journeys, especially during festive seasons. It is said that there are around 100,000 passengers who use express bus services per day.