|KUCHING (Nov 30): Minister of Transport Sarawak Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin has urged the federal government to increase the allocation of funds from RM7 million to RM50 million for Sarawak Stage Bus Service Transformation Programme in 2023.
“The federal government has allocation for stage bus services in Sarawak through the Interim Stage Bus Support Fund (ISBSF) and has provision for the Stage Bus Service Transformation (SBST).
“The amount provided in 2021 was RM7 million,” he said in his ministerial winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.
On a related matter, Lee informed that the Sarawak government, through his ministry, has implemented the RM1 Flat Rate Bus Fare Subsidy Programme since May 2020, with helping the B40 group to have better access to urban public transport and to help ease the people’s financial burden as the main objective.
“We are keen to address the decline in bus use in recent decades and we recognise that upgrading bus services to be attractive is key to achieving it. Hence, the programme is aimed to encourage the public to shift their mode of travel to public transport.
“Currently, the RM1 Flat Rate Bus Fare Subsidy Programme involves 11 bus companies operating on 56 routes in the urban areas of Kuching, Samarahan, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu,” he said.
He noted that the subsidy programme has proven to be very successful with a total cumulative ridership of up to 6.3 million recorded since May 2020.
“A total sum amounting to RM25.2 million has been allocated for May 2020 to December 2022,” he added.
Lee said the ministry has outlined more plans to improve bus services, increase service frequencies on the existing routes and expand bus services to areas where the service is yet to be provided.
He also acknowledged that there are some challenges in terms of federal jurisdiction and legislation, which has to be addressed in order for them to carry out planning and achieve the desired quality of the public transport system.
On another note, Lee said the ministry will look into extending the Free School Bus Programme.
“This programme started with 27 schools in Kuching and 29 schools in Miri. The programme was further extended to five schools and two schools in Sibu and Bintulu, respectively.
“My ministry will continue to work together with Yayasan Sarawak to extend this programme to more schools throughout Sarawak,” he said.
The programme was initiated by the Sarawak government and implemented through Yayasan Sarawak with the objective to ease the financial burden of families from the B40 group.