Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister for Transport
a. whether the Ministry is able to provide the estimated numbers of buses and bus drivers required to transport all workers in buses instead of lorries and, if so, what are they;
b. based on the required numbers and currently available resources, whether there is a shortfall; and
c. whether the Ministry is working with private bus operators to address this shortfall and, if so, what is the estimated timeline for this.
Reply by Minister for Transport S Iswaran:
1. Based on our consultation with the industry, a full transition to buses to ferry all workers will require many more buses than the available fleet of private buses. In addition, with the relaxation of COVID-19 measures and the resumption of travel, the demand for private buses has returned. Hence, just like pre-COVID, these existing buses will largely not be available for the transport of workers. Added to this is the shortage of drivers for both private and public buses.
2. The extent of additional buses needed would depend on how businesses adjust their operations and the extent to which bus-pooling arrangements are feasible and adopted. That said, even if multiple and staggered trips were made, the demand for buses and hence drivers would still be significant and difficult to meet. Hence, even as we continue to study how we can encourage more companies to transit to using alternative modes of transporting workers including buses, we need to be mindful of the serious practical challenges the industry faces in doing so.
3. Last month, I announced the implementation details of several new measures, which will help improve the safety and welfare of workers on lorries. We will not stop there but will continue to study further measures to improve the safety of workers, including encouraging companies to move towards alternative modes of transport.