After years of countless complaints from anxious parents and people who have nothing better to do, come 1st April 2009, all new small buses in Singapore will be required to have seat-belts on all seats. Existing small buses has a period of 5 years to convert the seating on their buses. Small school-buses carrying school-children must do this in 3 years.
Now, I am usually all for more safety on Singapore roads, but this new ruling will cause more harm than good. If you own a transport company and you are carrying school-children, you will need to spend money to convert your buses with this new ruling. Outside the cost factor, there is also talk about schools starting later next year. If schools start later, you will have to choose between carrying school-children or carrying workers who pay more than school going children. What will you do?
For me it will be a simple decision; I will stop carrying school-children. When I carry school-children now, I can squeeze 3 children in 1 seat. After the ruling with seatbelts, I can only have 2 in 1 seat. I spend money to convert the bus, and I have to carry fewer children with the new ruling. Why would I want to continue with school-children then?
LTA has some financial assistance for bus companies but if I own a bus company, I will choose to carry workers who pay more and who complain less. Once this rule comes into affect, I foresee a short of school-buses on Singapore roads.
Like I said; this new rule will cause more harm than good.