By only depending on travellers with permits to travel, express bus operators are bracing themselves for a lonely Raya season as they expect no customers to ‘balik kampung’ due to the interstate travel ban.
Express bus ticketing agent Mohamad Mizi has said that he could only sell one bus this Ramadan compared to previous years where they would have 12 full busloads going to Kuala Lumpur every single day.
“Without Covid-19 cases dropping, people know interstate travel will not be likely,” he told The Star at Butterworth’s Penang Sentral.
At the moment, the terminal is lonely and quiet as only a few ticket counters are opened. The shutters are pulled down on the rest.
Meanwhile at the Komtar bus terminal, there are some customers who would come to buy tickets without a permit or letter of authorisation from the police, said bus agency manager K. Ganthimathi.
“We always advise them to get police approval before buying tickets,” she added.
Even though the business is not doing well, Ganthimathi said her company will prioritise frontliners, essential service workers and those who have permission to travel.
Due to the number of passengers being almost zero at times, Ganthimathi revealed that ticket prices from Penang to Kuala Lumpur have increased and stated that the buses have to move whether or not if they were full.
“Tickets used to be RM38 and they are now RM48 due to increased operational costs and reduced revenue.”
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced last week that the interstate travel ban will not be lifted for Hari Raya.
Leisurely or social interstate travel will still not be allowed, except for travel activities between recovery movement control order states through tour agencies registered with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.
Only travel between districts within states is allowed, except in Sabah and Sarawak based on their state governments’ decisions.
Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Penang and Sarawak will remain under the conditional MCO until May 17.