More schools to post bus fees on website
THE school bus sector is now more transparent, with parents being able to check which operators have been appointed by several schools as well as the fares they charge.
This is thanks to an Internet portal set up by the Education Ministry (MOE) in January last year.
It said 31 schools are now using the portal and that another 34 will join in January next year.
It will eventually include all schools.
The website - known as the Information Notice Board for School Bus Services (IBSB) - also allows operators who are not registered with government procurement website, GeBiz, to bid to run services.
A ministry spokesman said: "Schools will select bus operators through a competitive process on IBSB and award contracts to operators who can best meet their needs."
Singapore School Transport Association chairman Wong Ann Lin estimates that at least 60 per cent of school bus operators are not GeBiz-registered.
He noted the portal will help improve transparency in the school bus industry.
"Usually, parents don't have a channel to obtain information about school bus services.
"Now, they can see and compare the fares and also negotiate directly with the appointed operators."
A check at the portal showed that operators charge a range of fares.
A two-way trip of up to 2km costs from about $80 to as much as $300 for a 15-seater bus.
The school bus sector has, in recent years, faced issues such as rising costs, poor service by some operators and disputes with parents about unpredictable fee hikes.
In the past five years, the Consumers Association of Singapore has received 39 complaints about school bus services.
Of these, 10 involved operators terminating their services suddenly or collecting deposits and not providing the promised service.
Six were about operators increasing prices after the consumers had signed contracts with them.
Grace Yong, 35, whose Primary 1 son takes a school bus to his day care centre every day, said: "It's good to have more transparency although I'm OK with any bus operator that the school appoints, as long as it does its job."
Chilukuri Dimps Rao, principal of Yumin Primary School which joined the portal a year ago, said, in the past, parents had to contact bus companies for fare details.
Now, they can "understand the rates for the different distances and can negotiate with the bus operators based on the information provided for each distance benchmark".
Single-bus operators such as Ng Beng Twan said it would be better if drivers had access to the new website in Chinese.
"If it's only in English, we cannot understand all the terms," added the 52-year-old who ferries pupils to a school in Jurong.
The IBSB website is at: schadmsvc.moe.gov.sg/moeibsb/