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Staff attrition forces Go-Ahead Singapore to sub-contract bus drivers

A new entrant to Singapore's bus sector, Go-Ahead Singapore (GAS) has entered into sub-contracting arrangements with SBS Transit and SMRT Buses, owing to a shortage of bus captains in its ranks.

GAS has arranged for 30 SBS Transit bus captains to be deployed at Loyang Depot from 21 September 2016 for approximately two months to drive Services 358 and 359. In addition, SMRT is sending 10 bus captains.

A subsidiary of UK-based The Go-Ahead Group, GAS was awarded the Loyang contract by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore in 2015. The contract, operating 25 routes with approximately 900 employees, is expected to generate total revenues of around S$500m (£230m) over five years.

GAS has requested of the current sub-contracting arrangement as it is temporarily short of bus captains. In a statement, it sad: "This is predominantly due to higher than expected staff attrition and the fine tuning of its schedules."

The company currently has 38 bus captains due to enter service over the coming weeks and it is "actively sourcing for and recruiting more bus captains".

David Cutts, GAS deputy chairman, added: "This move is about ensuring commuters continue to receive a service they can rely on. I am grateful to SBS Transit and SMRT Buses for their support and we will work towards recruiting and training more bus captains so as to take care of the journeys of commuters."

Earlier this year, GAS had raised its minimum monthly wage for bus captains effective 1 July, paying S$1,950 as starting salary for its Singaporean and permanent resident staff.

As of July 2016, it had hired 655 bus captains, ahead of its target to recruit and train 700 bus captains by the third quarter of this year.

Human Resources has reached out to Go-Ahead Singapore for further comments on the matter.

Earlier this year, the sectoral manpower plan for the bus industry was announced, targeted at easier entry into bus careers, and enhancing career pathways, in order to strengthen the Singaporean core,

Launched by senior minister of state from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Transport, Josephine Teo, the plan was developed by the Public Transport Sectoral Tripartite Committee.

The five strategies laid out in the plan are:

  1. Facilitate entry and transition to bus careers - Preparatory workshops (e.g. resume writing skills), industry previews and learning visits; accelerated pathways to becoming bus captain.
  2. Enhance training to uplift and professionalise bus careers - Establishment of the Singapore Bus Academy from the second half of 2016; 15 SkillsFuture Study Awards for bus professionals.
  3. Promote attractive benefits and career progression pathways - Infrastructure upgrades at bus interchanges, along with stronger emphasis  on workplace health management.
  4. Build pipeline of future bus professionals through pre-employment programmes - More bus-related content within the final-year curriculum at Republic Polytechnic.
  5. Strengthen outreach and community appreciation of bus professionals - Outreach programmes to help Singaporeans better understand career opportunities within the public bus industry.

Photo / 123RF

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