Express Bus Update: Major increase in fines proposed (Update #1)

Updated with letter on the fines!

TRANSIT takes note of the announcement of a major increase in fines for buses that involved in crashes or collisions

[TRANSIT: in case you are wondering, we prefer to avoid the use of the word ‘accident’ as it absolves responsibility]

The fines will be raised to a maximum of RM500,000 as proposed in the SPAD Act which will create the Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat or Public Land Transport Commission.

[TRANSIT: The SPAD Act will be tabled in Parliament in March 2010 and should be passed by June 2010. TRANSIT has requested an opportunity to review the draft bill. SPAD would be responsible for all land transport including taxis, stage and express buses, light rail transit (LRT), railway services and land cargo.]

Current fines under the CVLB, according to the article, are only RM300, but there are also opportunities to charge those involved under the Road Transport Act and the Penal Code.

Also interesting to note was this article about the process of installing speed limiters on express buses. As we at TRANSIT always say, the best speed limiter is a well-trained, courteous and safe driver!

TRANSIT Says:

What are your thoughts about the proposed fines of RM500,000? We welcome your feedback in the comments section below.

Read the letter below from Mariam Mokhtar of Ipoh.

Putting the brakes on killer buses (The Star)
Monday January 25, 2010

SHOULD we feel better now that more severe penalties are being imposed on bus companies and their drivers, “Huge fine for killer buses,” (The Star, Jan 22)? I think not because the penalties are insufficient.

Admittedly, the latest measures are better than the puny RM300 maximum fine imposed by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board.

What is RM300 to a bus company?

So, when Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said he was not in favour of imprisoning the offenders or suspending their permits, he was as usual pandering to the wishes of the bus companies.

Why not punish errant companies where it hurts them?

How about the failure of enforcement agencies to properly implement and enforce the law?

We have seen how the CVLB, RTD and police blame each other for this or that.

How about punishing government departments which fail to do their job properly?

Two years ago, it was recommended that drivers undergo compulsory training and government transport agencies, under pressure from the bus companies, decided not to implement such training.

So history repeats itself and we wait for the next major crash before this measure, of suspending the licence, or jailing the directors, is implemented.

The RM500,000 fine alone is not sufficient. Where there are breaches in safety, the bus company must have its licence suspended.

Additionally, the directors must also be made accountable as all too often, only the small-time employees are fined and jailed.

The directors or those in senior management should be looking into safe working conditions.

It is part of their responsibilities towards their paying customers and their employees.

All transport agencies must look into the minimum pay and working conditions of express bus drivers. They are mostly part-timers who are paid a monthly wage of RM500 once the whole trip is completed.

So to make ends meet, they may moonlight or do several overtime jobs.

Many are deprived of sleep and may even take drugs. They get fatigued and fall asleep at the wheel; the consequences of which have made terrible reading lately.

Many of the victims in a crash are thrown from the bus. Why can’t the use of seat belts be made compulsory? Is it because they are expensive to install?

If we are really serious about reducing crashes on our roads, we need to implement these recommendations rather than pander to the wishes of bus companies and some of the government agencies who for reasons of their own object to these stern measures.

MARIAM MOKHTAR,

Ipoh.

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