Long-term driver training ‘necessary’

Friday, July 29, 2011
Issue 1370, Page 3
Word count: 526
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Executive manager of Transmac, Steve Chan, says the company is aware of Macau resident expectations for the new bus service model and will try their best to meet demands.

Chan told the Macau Daily Times yesterday Transmac is ready to operate the 21 routes starting next Monday, adding that a total of 128 brand-new “big buses” will hit the road on the same day.

Yet, he says the company currently has about 330 drivers on board and is still in need of another 50.

Drivers will cancel their holidays and work extra hours in the meantime, he adds.

The executive manager admits that it is no easy task to find people with the right qualifications who are interested in entering the industry.

Some of Transmac’s drivers have also reportedly resigned to work for Reolian. Chan says it is a “free market” and job-hopping activities did not come as a surprise.

Nevertheless, he discloses that the company has already introduced three measures to “stabilise” the number of its drivers – a 5 percent pay rise, a retirement fund and “long-serving compensation” if they retire between 60 and 65 years old.

According to the executive manager, a driver who works eight hours a day, 26 days a month can receive MOP 12,700 of remuneration, but he did not explain what that includes.

In addition, he says a “safety reward” accounting for “a very low proportion” of remuneration will be given to drivers who report zero accidents each month.

However, Chan stresses that improving the city’s bus services cannot solely rely on one company’s efforts, adding that the companies can only invest in the “hardware” while the government needs to support them by providing “proper road resources”.

He has called on the government to launch a long-term human resources training programme not only for the public bus sector, but also the tourism and gaming industries where heavy vehicle drivers are in great demand as well.

“Over 70 percent of our drivers are above 50 years old. It shows that we must solve the manpower issue from the root or otherwise we can foresee the problem to grow bigger and bigger,” Chan tells the MDTimes.

He also says a thorough assessment is necessary to ascertain Macau’s demand for heavy vehicle drivers.

Reolian director Stephen Chok also said the lack of sufficient drivers will be a burden not only for the companies in the public transport system, but also to private entities. “If we are hiring drivers from other sectors, other companies will feel the pressure. This is a long-term issue for Macau to solve,” Chok told journalists.

Meanwhile, another existing bus operator TCM could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts yesterday.

On August 1, a new route MT4 between Barra and the University Hospital in Taipa and a night route N3 between the Macau peninsula and Coloane will be launched.

Route No. 21 will also be cancelled and No. 35 will extend its itinerary to Praça de Ferreira do Amaral and the Coloane Village.

A majority of the existing bus routes will remain unchanged next Monday in order to “minimise the impact on residents”, the Transport Bureau said.

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