School bus operators are being forced to offer higher wages to drivers amid increased competition from tour companies and garbage collectors, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Thursday.
As a result, students are facing increased costs for school bus services of up to 10 percent, most of which are expected to go to driver salaries.
School bus companies have a driver shortage of up 20 percent on many routes despite the offer of higher wages, the report said, citing Cheung Ying-fat, an executive committee member of the Public Omnibus Operators’ Association.
They are being squeezed out by tour operators and dump truck companies which pay their drivers HK$20,000 (US$2,580) and up to HK$30,000 a month, respectively, the report said.
Kwok Chor-kiu, chairperson of the Tai Po and North District Early Childhood Education Principal Association, said some operators have been forced to close.
School bus drivers get HK$13,000 after their wages were raised 15 percent, Leung Kong, chairman of the School Buses Operators Association, was quoted as saying.
Leung said fewer young, entry-level drivers are joining their ranks. This forces them to hire older, more experienced drivers who command higher salaries.
Meanwhile, the higher cost of school bus services is creating its own problems as parents cut back, according to Kwok.
“Parents don’t require transport for their children during months when there are a school holidays such December,” Kwok said.
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