TRANSIT took note of this very interesting article which describes the sponsoring of monthly bus passes for 53 students worth RM50 each, for the next six months.
The reason for the sponsorship of the passes is simple – a transportation subsidy might be used for other purposes, while bus passes can only be used for transport.
The bus passes were presented to the students at a ceremony with MIC and RapidKL present. MIC also called on the government to replace the transport subsidy with bus passes instead.
Free bus passes for 53 poor pupils (The Star)
23 April 2011
By PRIYA MENON
MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel has called on the Government to provide bus passes to poor children to replace the transport subsidy given out by the Welfare Department.
Palanivel said parents might use the cash aid to buy provision or other household items, forcing children to stay at home due to the lack of money for transportation.
“I suggest bus passes be given to the children so that there is no abuse,” he said during a ceremony organised by MIC Batu Youth to hand out bus passes to 53 schoolchildren from three schools in the Batu constituency.
The bus passes were sponsored by Sonali Products Sdn Bhd and individuals. The initiative taken by the MIC Batu chairman Ramanathan Chinnu began when he learnt of the plight of schoolchildren who missed their lessons because they could not afford the bus fare.
[TRANSIT: We wish to express our sincere congratulations to the sponsors, and hope that more companies would come forward to express interest in similar sponsorship arrangements. We agree with the concept and believe that there are more opportunities for corporate social responsibility and activities to encourage public transport use through the Rapidpass.]
“The principal of SJK(T) Thamboosamy Pillai told me that poor children rarely make it to class. I then recruited my friends to sponsor the children and also approached Sonali,” he said.
Sonali chief executive officer Susma Suresh said she was glad Ramanathan approached them with this corporate social responsibility programme.
She added that this project was part of the many they had carried out in Penang and Seremban over the years.
“We have also decided to give out RM200 vouchers for groceries to the students if they excel in their studies,” she said.
The children were given a briefing on a RapidKL bus before the event began to familiarise them with the bus system.
Ratna Subramaniam, 11, from Desa Rejang in Setapak, said she was happy to receive the bus pass that would reduce her family burden.
“I take the van to school every day but it is expensive. Although I have to take two buses to school now, it will definitely make our lives easier,” said Ratna who is studying at SJK(T) Sentul.
Her friend from SJK(T) Thamboosamy Pillai, Sathish Raj, 12, said his parents were happy they could save the money for other necessities. Raj gets RM2 a day and 50sen is spent on travelling.
A single mother P. Kavitha, 29, said the extra incentive including the voucher would help her save the RM200 that could be used to buy books.
“The bus pass will ensure my child goes to school and gets the education he needs while the voucher will ease my financial strain,” she said.
Also present at the event was RapidKL chief operating officer Datuk Mohamed Hazlan Mohamed Hussain.
The concessioned bus pass costs RM50 and will be given to the children for the next six months.
We have to say that this is a great example of a positive initiative, and we would love to see more organizations getting together for such sponsorships. In addition, we agree with the idea that passes would be a better and more direct form of welfare (as compared to cash or subsidy which can be used in other ways). However, we also see the tax incentives from the government would encourage people and corporations to purchase public transport passes – either for themselves or as gifts or perqs for employees. This would create additional demand for public transport use.
Even more ideally, if we had one local public transport authority with one fare system, these bus passes could be used throughout the Klang Valley. As it stands now, passengers only have the opportunity to use RapidKL buses.
It should be clear to the government that the time has come to finally reform public transport in the Klang Valley area by setting up a single, local public transport authority to plan, organize & manage the bus service, as well as decide on things like bus passes, donations of bus passes, incentives for the purchase of bus passes, etc.
Bus operators should be providing a service on behalf of the local authority, not dealing with the other ‘behind the scenes’ details.