S'pore bus company gets 1,292 applicants for 10 vacancies for S$5,000/month driver job

30 of the applicants have university degrees.

Daniel Seow | January 22, 2024, 02:36 PM



A job ad from a local bus company offering a S$5,000 monthly salary and a S$10,000 sign-on bonus for bus captains has attracted an overwhelming response.

The company, Westpoint Transit Pte Ltd, just concluded their first application window on Jan. 15, 2024.

As of Jan. 22, the company has received 1,292 applications for 10 bus captain positions.

Out of the 1,292 applicants, 450 of them are Singaporeans, and 30 of them hold a university degree.

Some applicants from banks, tech firms

Speaking to Mothership, Westpoint Transit business development director Lionel Lee said they initially hoped to attract at least 300 applicants across two windows.

He said he was encouraged by the "overwhelming response".

To apply, drivers needed at least one year of relevant experience, a valid Class 4 driving licence and a vocational licence.

Lee said around 60 per cent of the applicants were Singaporean Citizens or Permanent Residents (PR).

The rest hail from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, India and Myanmar.

Most applicants were male, with about 10 to 20 female applicants.

University graduates mid-career switch to bus driver

Lee was surprised that some 30 applicants had university degrees.

According to Lee, all of them were mid-career applicants aged between 24 and 40, and many of them used to work at places like banks or tech firms.

So why did they give up their jobs to become a bus driver?

Lee said he gathered two reasons.

"One, their job was too stressful," said Lee. "Two, some say they've always had a 'passion' for driving large vehicles."

Lee said some were so passionate that they acquired their vocational licenses during their free time and drove buses part-time during the weekend.

"So I found that very interesting because even for me, who is, you know, a professional in the industry, never knew that youngsters were actually driving part-time."

So who did they hire?

Lee eventually hired seven out of the 1,292 applicants, and their hires were aged 27 to 51 years old — but only two were university graduates.

The company looks to hire another 20 drivers from the next round of interviews, which will conclude by mid-April 2024.

Apart from the interviews, applicants will also need to do a driving test to assess their driving skills.

As for the S$10,000 joining bonus, Lee said it would be disbursed in three tranches:

  • 30 per cent upon signing a three-year contract
  • 30 per cent after completing their three-month probation
  • 40 per cent after completing six months of employment

Why a S$5,000 starting pay?

Lee explained that the company decided on the S$5,000 salary figure to make it a viable career option for younger Singaporeans.

"There is a stigma [in Singapore] that people see it as a highly laborious and not-so-well-paying job," he said.

Currently, Lee estimates the base starting salary for bus drivers would be between S$3,000 and S$4,000, but he wanted to "move the needle" on that.

He wanted to give a starting pay matching what was offered in other industries.

Lee said the company also implements family-friendly measures for their drivers.

Drivers can work a maximum of 44 hours per week and cannot take certain shifts consecutively for safety reasons.

Wants to attract younger S'porean drivers

Lee hopes what he did can help attract a younger generation of Singaporean drivers, who can help revitalise a declining industry typically reliant on older drivers in their 50s and above.

"If not, we will end up the way of many other industries that have not been able to attract local talent," he said.

He was encouraged to see that the average age of the applicants he's screened so far is in the 30s.

Their youngest applicant so far was 24.

So far, all his hires are Singaporeans.

Hopes to change the perception of bus driver career

On career prospects, Lee pointed out that drivers can later pivot to other roles in the company and utilise their talents, such as in tech development, human resources, or operations.

    Ultimately, Lee hopes to change the perception of bus driving as a career that's not "attractive".

    "At the end of the day, being a driver or a bus captain is an honest day's work."

    "We shouldn't just shut the door on the talents and the youngsters who want to actually give that a shot as well."

    Top image from Lionel Lee.