On whether allowing tour buses to be hired through e-hailing or providing feeder service is feasible.
A well-known tourism personality claims that leasing companies are finding every reason to get tour bus operators cough out with monthly payments despite knowing full well they have no income since March 18 when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed.
He wondered whether granting tour bus companies with e-hailing operating licence on temporary basis will be a good idea and proposed that tour buses be used to provide feeder service to complement stage buses in residential areas.
As his concern and suggestions are shared by many, it is necessary to debunk misperceptions.
Firstly, banks and leasing companies will only repossess vehicles as the last resort. They would rather have customers continue with monthly payments but those that stopped for a prolonged period leave them with no other choice but to repossess and cut losses.
Saying that leasing companies are finding every reason to squeeze tour bus operators is flawed. Business transactions are based on agreed contracts and nothing to do with charity or room for magnanimity as lessors are saddled with a bigger problem than individual lessees.
Allowing tour buses to be hired through e-hailing is feasible if there is demand but regulations and insurance must be in place. It would require permission by the Land Public Transport Agency and Commercial Vehicle Licensing Boards of Sabah and Sarawak.
Also, it must be granted by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, including tourist guide exemption, and enforcement agencies such as the Road Transport Department notified, as a tour bus with passengers must have a tourist guide that normally cost around RM200 per day.
As for providing feeder service, the volume of passengers may not even be enough to pay for the bus driver. Even before the MCO, long queues of taxi drivers waited for hours at many train stations, and most Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) buses were running more empty than full.
In recent years, many stage bus companies have collapsed despite subsidy from the government through the Interim Stage Bus Support Fund, as remittances reach these bus operators many months later while they waited indefinitely, forcing many to call it a day.
In the past, tour bus operators have complained that school, worker, and stage buses have encroached into their business by operating charter services for side-income. Today, with all bus operators suffering, no one will take kindly of any encroachment and tempers may flare.
The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own/strictly those of The True Net reader CY Ming of Ampang.