Make bus companies accountable for driver offences, say users

PETALING JAYA: The proposal to issue accreditation cards for express bus drivers is laudable but the liability must fall on bus companies to vet their own employees, say public transport users.

Public Transport Users Association (4PAM) president Ajit Johl said this is because the firms have a duty to ensure that their drivers exercise the highest care while transporting passengers.

The role of the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) as regulator should be to issue the driver’s cards following the vetting process done by the express bus companies, as well as perform random checks on the drivers thereafter, said Ajit.

“We think it’s a good idea the accreditation methodology be brought forward.

“The express bus companies cannot wash their hands off their responsibilities and leave all the verification to APAD to check if their drivers are in violation of any laws such as having outstanding summons, or if they were high on drugs or took alcohol while driving,” he said.

“While we agree with the whole idea that drivers need to be screened, that responsibility must go back to the express bus companies. APAD’s role as regulator is to do random checks to ensure that the laws are being followed,” he said when contacted yesterday.

He added that should a driver be found to have broken the laws stated after receiving his accreditation card, then the directors of the express bus company must be held responsible.


“When it comes to public transport or public goods, the duty of care is higher on the directors because it involves human lives,” he said, adding that the same onus applies to other public transport such as ferries, public buses and airplanes.

Ajit was responding to renewed calls by the Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association, which urged the government to issue a driver’s card for express bus drivers, similar to the card issued to taxi drivers.

Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali proposed for APAD to vet drivers that wish to work for express bus companies and to issue them the driver’s card after verifying details such as whether the driver has any outstanding summons, or was under any court action.

On April 2 last year, JPJ director-general Datuk Zailani Hashim said a bus driver was taken to task for using a handphone while driving from Penang to Ipoh.

A 20-second video of him doing that went viral on social media. The driver, who had 13 previous traffic offences, was using his elbows – not his hands – to steer the wheel.

Meanwhile, passengers say the move to introduce accreditation cards for express bus drivers is timely but hope that the process will be strictly followed so that errant drivers can be taken off the road.

Student Sabinah Ali, 20, said it would provide more assurance for passengers that bus drivers have been vetted and accredited.

“I have taken buses where the drivers drive really fast, talk out loud on the phone, take video calls and even watch YouTube videos and dramas while driving,” she added.

“With the driver’s card, at least I can know that the drivers have undergone a strict assessment before being allowed to drive,” said the university student.

Postgraduate student Zaffran Khairulnizam, 26, also commended the proposal.

“I’ve seen express bus drivers smoke and speak on the phone while driving and once, when I got on a bus to go to town, I was shocked to see a middle-aged Indonesian woman, whose job was usually to hand out ticket stubs, in the driver’s seat,” he said.
Autos News