The public bus industry aims to employ 1,200 Singaporean bus drivers this year, and there are about 300 Singaporeans have been recruited so far, said the Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (18 June).
During an online dialogue session with bus drivers, trainees and other representatives from the bus sector, Mr Khaw noted the existing 10,000 bus drivers are made up of a “healthy mix” of both local and foreign bus drivers.
The industry – consists of bus operators Go Ahead, SBS Transit, SMRT and Tower Transit – aims to hire about 200 permanent residents in addition to the 1,200 Singaporeans, which would result in a 14 per cent increase in the bus driver workforce.
He added that the attrition rate among bus drivers is usually lower than 10 per cent each year.
With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Minister sees a “golden opportunity” to increase hiring among Singaporeans who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic.
“We are targeting those who are already driving – let’s say, driving for taxis, driving for tourist buses and private buses. They have the skills,” Mr Khaw stated.
Noting that the ridership for buses and trains has decreased amid the pandemic, he emphasized the needs to keep them running as essential workers still need to commute to and from work.
However, due to the imposition of Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) in March, many Malaysian bus drivers were unable to make it across the Causeway which caused bus drivers in Singapore to work “extra hard”.
Speaking to the Channel News Asia (CNA), the Minister noted that other sectors in the public transport network will also need to ramp up hiring. He hinted that the Government will expand the MRT network in the coming years, adding that it will grow to 360km by 2030.
“So we are recruiting engineers, technicians, and we will need them over the next few years,” Mr Khaw remarked.
Singaporeans do not want to take up the job due to low salary and long hours of work, say netizens
While many netizens support the Government’s initiative to increase hiring more Singaporeans in the public transport industry, some netizens raised concerns about the salary being offered to public bus staff.
Penning their thoughts under the comment section of CNA’s Facebook post – covering the announcement – some netizens wrote that Singaporeans do not want to take up the job due to the low salary and the long hours of work.
One netizen noted that bus operators have to work long hours, despite only getting a “mediocre pay”. He urged the Government to adjust the working conditions in order to meet the locals’ work flexibility and salary demand.
While others commented that the Government only proposed such ideas to gain votes for the upcoming general election (GE).