SBS raises starting pay for bus captains by 15%

SBS raises starting pay for bus captains by 15%
TODAY file photo
Together with a new reliability incentive, overtime and other perks, drivers can hit a gross monthly salary of about S$3,460
Published: 5:11 PM, June 1, 2016
Updated: 10:33 PM, June 1, 2016

SINGAPORE — Competition among bus operators to draw more local drivers inched up another notch on Wednesday (June 1) with the biggest player, SBS Transit, announcing a pay hike of over 15 per cent for its new bus captains.

New bus captains who are Singaporeans or permanent residents will get a monthly gross salary of about S$3,460 under SBS Transit’s new salary package, the company and the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) announced on Wednesday. The amount includes a higher basic monthly salary of S$1,950 — up from the current S$1,775 — as well as overtime and incentives. New bus captains will also get a S$3,000 sign-on bonus.

The revised salary package will benefit 6,500 bus captains. Another 3,500 staff including route masters at the interchanges, assistant service controllers at the operations control centre, technicians and traffic inspectors, will also see higher salaries.

SBS Transit’s new monthly gross salary for drivers is marginally higher than that offered by Tower Transit Singapore, which announced last month that its bus drivers could earn about S$3,440 a month. Tower Transit, Singapore’s third bus operator which rolled out nine of the 26 services of its Bulim bus package on Sunday, had announced a 3.5 per cent pay increase for its drivers and staff, where a junior driver would get a basic monthly salary of S$1,930.

In February, the fourth bus operator, Go-Ahead, had announced a starting basic salary of S$1,865 a month for its local drivers, which had matched Tower Transit’s at the time and was superior to incumbents SBS Transit and SMRT.

Tower Transit and Go-Ahead, both overseas operators, won the first two packages offered under Singapore’s new bus contracting model, which would see the Government paying fees to operators to run bus services. Under the new model, which injects more competition into the industry, the Government would retain fare revenue and own the buses, depots and fleet management system. Tower Transit will fully implement its 26 routes in western Singapore this month, while Go-Ahead will begin running bus services from the third quarter of this year.

SBS Transit chief executive Gan Juay Kiat said it hopes to attract more Singaporeans and permanent residents to join as bus captains. They will be offered structured training and career progression opportunities in operations, management and training, he added.

NTWU executive secretary Melvin Yong said these are important steps to professionalise the public bus industry and build a stronger Singaporean core. As the biggest player in the public bus industry, SBS Transit is also setting a good example, he said.

Among its perks for bus captains are a new reliability incentive of up to S$300 a month, a flexi-benefits scheme with S$500 in credit value a year, two weeks of paid paternity leave, free travel on all trains and basic bus services, and free annual health screening. The median gross monthly salary for fresh graduates in full-time permanent employment last year was S$3,300, according to the latest Joint Graduate Employment Survey.