With better pay, more Singaporeans becoming bus drivers

This article is more than 12 months old

In the 10 months since it has been open, the Singapore Bus Academy has trained about 1,000 bus captains, 70 per cent of whom are Singaporeans.

Of these, half are above the age of 40, and a quarter are above 50 years old.

Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo revealed these statistics yesterday at a graduation ceremony for 20 bus captains who took a course to upgrade their skills. The ceremony also marked the graduation of the academy's 1,000th trainee.

Mrs Teo, who acknowledged the contributions of bus operators SBS Transit, SMRT, Tower Transit and Go-Ahead in recruiting local bus captains, said: "You were prepared to challenge the notion that few locals could be persuaded to join (the bus industry) and you were also prepared to consider older workers and give them a chance."

Singaporeans have long shunned work as bus captains because of the long hours and poor pay associated with the job.

However, in recent years, operators have started offering bus captains better pay and benefits.

Mrs Teo also noted that the number of bus captains will need to increase to about 11,100 by 2022 - up from about 9,800 currently - to meet Singapore's transport needs.

This is despite the prospect of driverless technologies gaining ground, she said, as it is not known when driverless buses will become an "industry mainstay".

In April, it was announced that two driverless public buses - developed by a consortium led by ST Kinetics - are expected to make their debut here by October 2020.

Mrs Teo said the Singapore Bus Academy must help workers in the bus industry refresh their skills and acquire new skills to stay relevant, including orienting them to a future where driverless technologies become "pervasive and commonplace".

The academy - based at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability in Jurong East - was established by the Land Transport Authority to raise the professionalism of the local bus industry.

It plans to provide training to other workers in the bus industry, such as bus schedulers and technicians, to build up their resource management and technical skills.