Sunday, February 25, 2007

Was this express bus company profiteering during CNY or what?!

On any other day, the normal fare from Ipoh to Singapore on an 18-seater express bus/ coach is RM60.

But during the Chinese New Year period this year, I paid RM130 for the same seat on the same route. And I bought it at their main office, not a ticket tout.

Bus companies call it the natural consequence of supply and demand. I call it highway robbery.

The CVLB (Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board) said that fares should not be raised exorbitantly during festive periods. I wonder if 100% qualifies as exorbitant?

And do note the neat little trick of splitting the single Ipoh-Sg journey (which usually costs RM60) into 2 portions and charging separately for each portion... RM63.20 for Ipoh-JB and an absolutely ridiculous RM66.80 for the short 2km hop across the causeway from JB-Singapore!!! I suspect this is done so that the overcharging doesn't show up clearly on their ticketing records or accounting paper trails... but I'm amazed that the CVLB or Transport Ministry doesn't pickup dodgy practices like this.

Btw, the ticket may read Zenwan (M) Sdn Bhd, but it was a Grassland bus which I boarded. So, the companies may be related.

Another trick they use on Malaysia-bound routes originating from Singapore - is to exchange the S$ ticket/receipt which you get when you buy a ticket in Singapore... for a RM ticket/receipt. The conductors/ 2nd drivers will do this after you board the bus. Why do they do it? I don't know, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that a Ipoh-Sg trip cost RM60 but the reverse Sg-Ipoh trip costs S$47 (RM108)? Maybe it's more tax effective to report a RM60 revenue per fare-paying passenger, rather than S$47?

In any case, this is another compelling reason to liberalise the air travel between Malaysia and Singapore, or to build the KL-Sg bullet train. With more affordable alternatives, the express bus companies will be forced to buck up and provide better service at lower fares.

An article on express bus overcharging during CNY this year:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's what happens to my colleague from Ipoh every CNY... the bus company overcharge and then threaten the passengers that if they want to reach Ipoh in the shortest possible time, then don't make any complaints about the exorbitant ticket price when some officials board the bus to do random checking. If not, everyone will be held up. So, everyone keeps quiet and the bus companies get away with a big, fat profit, year after year.