Not to miss out on the hikes, even the school bus services are raising their fares. Citing non profits, operators said that this is inevitable as they earn only from ferrying workers and not school children.

In my honest opinion, there’s really no free lunch. So, if the business of ferrying children to school is really not profitable, I think they should just stop doing it altogether. In this way, they can stop emissions of harmful fumes and smoke into the atmosphere. At the same time, this will weed out (yes, weed out, just like how the weed out "casual taxi passengers") parents who are able to send their own kids to school via other means. As for the remaining parents, they will begin to understand how integral the school bus service is for their kids and will thus be willing to pay more.

Problem solved, isn’t it?

PARENTS reacted with dismay yesterday to the news that school bus fares are likely to jump by at least $5 to $10 a month starting next month.

The largest association of school bus companies here recommended the hike in the wake of rising diesel prices. But some private operators have said they plan to raise their prices even more.

That drew the ire of some parents, who said bus fares, now between $40 and $160 a month, are already too high.

‘Many of my neighbours are considering taking their children out of school transport after this year,’ said Mr Foo Suan Keng, 46, a senior commercial officer in a shipyard who has three children taking the bus.

The increase is the first since January last year, said the Singapore School Transport Association, which represents 90 per cent of operators here. The group has about 1,000 members and a fleet of 2,000 buses.

Chairman Wong Ann Lin said bus companies have seen their profits disappear.

A survey commissioned by the association two years ago showed that, on average, operators took home about $20,000 in 2005. Their expenses were over $30,000. Mr Wong had said earlier that bus drivers make most of their money from ferrying workers and not school children.

Mr Wong said even the expected fare hike would not cover the rising costs faced by operators.

But that is small consolation for parents. Teacher Samila Ghouse, 33, a mother of three, pays $260 a month to bus her two school-going kids and is worried about the increase. Her youngest daughter will start taking the bus next year, bringing her total bill to $380 before the increase.

She said: ‘I have no alternatives other than the school bus. I’m a single parent and have no way to send them to school.’

While the association recommended that members increase their fares by not more than $10 a month, they have no say over other operators.

Mr Ng Ang Heng, 50, who is not part of the association, said fares on his bus will go up by $15 to $30 next month. That will not cover the cost of ferrying pupils.

The rising expectations of parents have made it harder to turn a profit, he said. ‘Even though the Land Transport Authority guideline says three children to two seats, parents want one child per seat. That limits the number of children I can ferry.’

Meanwhile, parents say they are left with little choice but to cough up the cash.

Mr Foo now pays $45 per child for a two-way trip. That will rise to $70 next month. He is considering other arrangements, including car pooling.

‘Some parents have even considered transferring their children to a school that is closer to their home,’ he said.

Article obtained from on 12th December 2007

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