The following speech was presented by Mr Zainal Bin Sapari, Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris – Punggol GRC, at the Official Opening of Loyang Bus Depot on 19 June 2016. (Go-Ahead Singapore Bus Carnival)
Mr David Brown, crew Chief Executive of Go Ahead Group; Mr Nigel Wood, Managing Director, Go-Ahead Singapore; Mr Chew Men Leong, CE of LTA. I’d also like to acknowledge my brothers from NTUC, brother Rosmani Bin Juraini, president of NTWU, as well as the general secretary of NTWU, brother Fang Chin Poh, as well as the executive secretary of NTWU, brother Melvin Yong, my parliamentary colleague.
First and foremost, I would like to congratulate Go-Ahead, for being able to set foot in Singapore and be part of our public transport provider. The public transport system is one that intimately involves the community. Every bus journey needs mutual understanding and respect for commuters, drivers and the people working in the background. I am glad that today’s carnival has helped to strengthen the ties between these two groups through meaningful communication and interaction. From September 2016, I need to understand Go Ahead will be operating bus services on 25 grounds in the Loyang District, covering Pasir Ris, Punggol, Changi, Tampines, Bedok and Sengkang.
What makes a good bus company? I think Mr David Brown has mentioned (that) they want to be a professional bus company, but really, what makes a good bus company are the bus captains. The bus captains are the touch points to the commuters of everyday and I think, when I was very young, everytime when I take a public transport, I used to play this, a little game, trying to guess what is it or where is the passenger going because I believe every passenger has his story. Every passenger that is in the bus, you might have a student that is going to school, wanting to be on time, not being punished, or you have a passenger, going for his first job interview. I think the success of all these stories depend on the bus captains, because to be great bus captains don’t just drive, they must care for the passengers. They go beyond their job descriptions to ensure their passengers have the best experience possible in their journey no matter where they are going or what their story is.
As a commuter, I think all of us would like bus captains that are personable. As a bus captain, you are acting as a face of your bus line brand and while your driving skills are crucial to ensure the safety of the passengers, your ability to interact with your passengers is what makes or bring accompany.
Good bus captains make every passenger feel welcomed, comfortable and appreciated. And I always believe a friendly smile goes a long way to make the commuters feel welcomed. People remember kindness and friendliness and (when) they have a positive experience, they will remember you and the company as well. I think, Go Ahead must be selling more than just a bus ride, but an experience, and this is where as a bus captain, you will play an important role.
Bus captains must also be leaders because you are the captain of your own ship; of the buses. As a bus captain, I think you are in charge of the well-being of a bus full load of passengers, so having the ability and confidence to lead is essential as a bus captain. Being a leader, it is important that you must remain calm under pressure as bus drivers, who have no control of those around them, while you are on the road and you must be ready for anything that might cross your path.
What are some of these possible situations that you might face? Poor weather conditions. We’ve read in the news, a bus being stranded because of a flash flood. You might get disgruntled passengers who might have a bad day or even road rage from inconsiderate drivers and poor traffic conditions. I think, regardless of the adversity of the dangers that you face on the road, your first priority as a bus captain is the safety of your passengers.
Being able to make rational decisions under pressure is a key quality to make you a great bus captain. Having a bochup attitude in term, in times of emergency, will not do your company any favours. I think, like any other profession, bus captains must be dedicated to their work. Having passion for your work is a major part of your life happiness in achieving work-life balance. The majority of the workforce is spent nearly one-third of our life working. So, in order for you to make sure that you have a pleasant working experience, you must do something that you love. Bus captains’ focus and attention are crucial when behind the wheel. For this reason, they must present a strong desire and passion for the position, something that you must be proud of doing and not just do for the reasons of earning a day’s wage.
Equally important as bus captains, you must be respectful of others. The foundation of a great operation is always in a great team, so in addition to showing the utmost respect for your passengers, great bus captains treat their colleagues with respect. It is important to remember that, as bus captains, you are part of the team, a voice and not just another employee.
In the end, great bus drivers care. They care about their passengers, their colleagues and their work. Every passenger has a story and every bus driver has the opportunity to make it a great one. Before I end, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Go-Ahead great success in operating in Singapore and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all fathers Happy Father’s Day. Thank you.