We need a dependable, honest bus service network

THE feeder bus services in the capital needs some urgent improvements.

Bus Number 01 from the terminal to Centrepoint Gadong seldom goes to Batu Satu even though it is marked on its schedule. This is especially so for the small blue mini buses.

The foreign drivers pick up passengers at the bus stop before the Bomba and then head speedily in the right lane towards the RIPAS Hospital.

I have seen passengers outside the Law Building hold up their hands but only one out of three buses (Number 01 light blue buses) stopped to pick them.

This was because the drivers were in the right lane travelling fast and couldn’t switch lanes in time to pick the passengers standing at the designated stops on the left.

This is very bad service. The passengers who were waiting for at least 20 minutes deserved to be picked. The bus drivers will just laugh as they pass the bus stops where passengers are waiting.

The foreign bus drivers shouldn’t short-circuit the route but should go into Batu Satu area stopping at the bus stop in front of the textile galleria.

Recently, I saw a group of tourists waiting at the bus stop in front of the textile galleria for about half an hour. I hoped a bus would show up to pick them up.

The bus should then stop again in front of the Laksamana College of Business where there are several passengers waiting often, then the bus goes out again onto the opposite side of the Jalan Tutong before going up the hill towards RIPAS Hospital.

The Number 01 service can be dramatically improved. This is not some extra service because the Batu Satu schedule is already marked inside the bus but never followed completely.

Batu Satu is a vibrant place now with many passengers who come from the many offices and restaurants, four hotels, a textile galleria, two supermarkets/department stores and a business college with more than 1,000 students.

That being the case, there are always passengers to be picked up daily from that area. It is not as if the buses turn into that area in vain. If the buses are regular and reliable, more people will use them.

If the Number 01 bus driver sees his friends/countrymen waiting, even if not at a designated bus stop, he will stop or even do a U-turn to pick them up. This shouldn’t be the case.

The foreign drivers should not short-circuit the route but do their jobs in full. They should not show favouritism to their fellow countryman and ignore others.

The drivers must be lectured sternly by the Land Transport Department and the Ministry of Communications on how to do their jobs properly. They should also be warned that they will be sent home if they did not follow official instructions.

Another problem is that in some services like 01, 45 and 44, the conductor on board do not issue a ticket after you pay the bus fare. She will take the money offered but pretend to be engrossed in Whatsapp chat on her smart phone. This way, they cheat the bus owners. This practice goes on daily and the bus driver and his female conductor will accumulate enough money for their lunches and dinners.

Again, they should be told if they cannot be honest they should go home and find another job. This cheating gives a very bad impression of Brunei to the tourists.

Passengers should be allowed to give confidential feedback about the feeder bus services to the relevant authorities and there should be hotlines for complaints. The relevant authorities must intervene firmly and quickly to stop these errant practices.

There is literally no bus service after 6pm. To enliven the business environment, all feeder bus services should have two shifts of crew so that they can extend their services up to 11pm daily. This will make businesses more vibrant because the tourists and foreign workers can move around safely and freely until late. This includes buses running to the Tutong and Belait districts. Once the late bus services are reliable, there will be increased traffic.

Need to attract more tourists to Brunei? Then, one way is to ensure a dependable and honest bus service network running until late night.

– LC