Sunday 19 February 2012

Bus operators rehiring retirement-age drivers

The Straits Times, 18 Feb 2012

THE two public bus operators have been rehiring drivers who reach retirement age, in a bid to stem the falling number of Singaporean drivers.

Two out of five retiring drivers from SBS Transit accepted re-employment offers last year, while two out of three did so at SMRT in 2009 and 2010. The retirement age is 65 at SBS, and 62 at SMRT.

The initiative is among the ongoing measures that the two public transport operators have taken to maintain a 'Singaporean core' of drivers.

Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo revealed the figures in response to questions in Parliament yesterday. MPs for Nee Soon GRC Lim Wee Kiak and Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim had asked her about the recruitment of drivers by public transport operators.

There are currently around 7,200 bus drivers working for the two companies. Mrs Teo said that between them, they recruit an average of 280 Singaporean and 800 foreign drivers each year.

She said they have found it increasingly difficult to recruit Singaporeans, especially young people, because higher educational attainment has driven up career aspirations.

The number of public bus drivers who are Singaporeans and permanent residents has fallen from around 4,890 - or 65.8 per cent of the driver pool - at the end of 2009 to 4,405 - or 60.5 per cent of the pool - at the end of last year.

About 1,000 drivers, including Singaporeans and foreigners, leave the driver pool each year. That works out to about 14 per cent of the total number of drivers.

Mrs Teo said the number of drivers leaving every year has been driven by better remuneration and work conditions, including shorter working hours, in the logistics and construction sectors.

Having to deal with customer service tasks is another reason why some drivers leave the sector, added Mrs Teo.

Despite the challenges, she said the public transport operators have been making extensive efforts to reach out to Singaporeans.

This includes taking part in job fairs organised by the Community Development Councils and self-help groups, and conducting walk-in interviews at bus interchanges.

Mrs Teo commended the rehiring of drivers who reach retirement age by the two operators, as it allows them to keep these experienced drivers.

Earlier this month, the Public Transport Council highlighted the shortage of bus drivers here, which has led to SBS Transit and SMRT plugging the gap by hiring from overseas - mainly from Malaysia and China.

The crunch comes at a time when both companies are expanding their fleets and bus ridership is rising.

Singapore faces shortage of bus drivers: PTC
Tay Suan Chiang, The Straits Times, 2 Feb 2012

Singapore faces a shortage of bus drivers, the Public Transport Council (PTC) said on Wednesday.

Unless transport operators can attract more recruits, they may not be able to put enough buses on the roads, said PTC chairman Gerard Ee. 'Finding enough bus captains is a challenge,' he added.

About 30 per cent of the 1,900 bus drivers employed by SMRT are from Malaysia or China. 'As Singaporeans are becoming better qualified with higher career aspirations, it has become increasingly difficult to attract them to become service leaders,' said an SMRT spokesman.

The transport operator has organised recruitment drives in Singapore and abroad. It is also working with agencies such as the community development councils and National Trades Union Congress to help spread the net wider.

Mr Ee was reappointed PTC chairman on Wednesday by Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew. He also chairs the National Kidney Foundation. Fifteen other council members were appointed, from a wide range of social groups.

Each of them will serve for two years, and their job is to safeguard commuters' interests while making sure the public transport operators are viable in the long term. They will help with regulation in areas including those related to buses and their operators, and MRT fares.

Four of the members are new appointments. They are Mr Abdullah Shafiie Mohamed Sidik, chairman of the Siglap South Community Club Management Committee and Joo Chiat Constituency Sports Club; Mr Richard Magnus, chairman of the Casino Regulatory Authority; Ms Tan Seow Peer, lawyer at Lee Bon Leong & Co; and Mr Toh Hock Poh, president of the Metal Industries Workers Union.

No comments:

Post a Comment