MALAYSIANS KINI | When Tuty Sofia Ahmad Tajudin first told her friends she wanted to become a bus driver, she was not surprised that she was laughed at.
As a former taxi driver, she had also been criticised for her choice of work.
"They told me that being a bus driver was a 'man's job' and as a woman, I would never make it in the industry.
“But I never let all the negativity get to me, you know. Nothing they said could possibly break my spirit or make me lose sight of the goal.
“In fact, their comments made me braver and even more determined than ever to follow through with my dream,” she told Malaysiakini in an interview.
Taking on the challenge, Tuty left her day job as a taxi driver seven months ago and applied for a position with Rapid KL’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) division.
The position was a new experience for her but at the same time allowed her to do what she always loved - being behind the wheel.
The 28-year-old was excited during her job interview but did not know that upon qualifying, she would become the first female bus captain of the BRT line.
"I very much like being a bus captain, and there's nothing wrong with that. I’ve always wanted to be behind the wheel,” she said, adding that she had her family's blessing in her career choice.
Speaking to Malaysiakini at the BRT Sunway depot near Sunway University, Tuty proudly recounted the whole experience with gusto.
The BRT Sunway line is an elevated guideway for electric buses and remains the only public transportation system in the country that runs fully on electricity. The line was open to the public in late 2015.
Buses on the line ferry passengers from USJ 7 to the Setia Jaya KTM station and back, connecting commuters to Mentari, Sunway Lagoon, Sunway Medical Center, Monash and Sunway universities, as well as South Quay USJ 1.
Prasarana CEO Azmi Abdul Aziz (photo) on Sep 5 said the move to appoint a female to the BRT's bus captain ranks reflected the company's stand towards inclusivity.
"We want to break the male-dominated stereotype in this industry by creating an inclusive environment in Prasarana where everyone, regardless of their gender, will thrive and succeed," he said in a Facebook post.
"Thank you (Tuty) for being a role model for young girls out there who want to build a career in the public transportation industry."
Prasarana operates much of the nation’s public transport infrastructure, including the BRT, the Mass Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), KL Monorail and Rapid bus services in the federal capital, Penang, Kuantan, and Kamunting.
Tuty works 14-hour shifts daily. To get to work she has to drive to and from the depot in the wee hours from her home in Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur, which has proven to be a challenge for the mother of two.
"But I'm grateful,” she said. “I get to do what I want to do, and I am having a great time here," she added with a smile on her face.
She quipped that the only problems she faces now are “tight swerves” and “peak hour crowds”....