The Land Transport Authority has the power and the responsibility to require all commercial service buses be fit for purpose. It should mandate that every single one of them have a working GPS that is hard-wired to the vehicle’s starter, so that whenever a service bus is on our roads, they know where it is.

The information could be held in confidence, but when there’s a complaint or a criminal investigation, this information should be shared with authorities.

Bus drivers give up their right to privacy when they choose this work. If they want to provide a public service, they should do it in a public way. We need to know they can be trusted.

Uber, Lyft and other driver-for-hire services provide this service to their customers. The least we can do is to put GPS information where it can be used if needed.

With the near-death of yet another frightened young woman, it’s no longer possible for women to feel safe in public transport. This is a scandalous indictment of the state of the industry.

We applaud the efforts of the Land Transport Associations to stamp out this criminal behaviour, but they clearly need our assistance and support.

It’s not acceptable that we should tell women to take care, to find other ways to get home, to travel in groups. Why should women pay the penalty for other people’s crimes?

The Daily Post is practising what it preaches here. We have GPS devices installed in our company vehicles, and we actively monitor their use. It’s cost-effective and reliable. It tracks where our trucks go, when they’re running and how fast they’re driving.

All of this information is useful, and where public transport is concerned, the public has a right to know it.

As a first step toward that goal, the Land Transport Authority should make GPS mandatory in all service buses. Buses operating without a working GPS are easy to find. After a reasonable grace period, anyone driving without GPS turned on should be subjected to a graduated series of penalties, starting with a modest fine, and ending with removal of their commercial service license and blacklisting for a prescribed period of time.

If cost is a concern, they can raise prices for a month. Changing the price from VT 150 to VT 200 for a very short period would be more than enough to offset the installation cost. If the LTA negotiates a bulk purchase, the price for each one will be extremely low.

In marginal cases where livelihoods are at stake, perhaps government or donors could subsidise the cost.

Sharing GPS information is to everyone’s benefit. Innocent drivers won’t be subjected to undue suspicion. People will know who speeds and who doesn’t, who goes where, who’s based in what neighbourhoods. Good drivers can compete more effectively because now they can prove how good they are. Owners can see what their drivers are doing.

We could even use the information to provide real-time traffic reports.

But before we try to open this up to everyone, the least we can do is help Police and LTA keep our service bus drivers in line with the law. GPS should be mandated immediately.

Dan McGarry

Media Director

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