New day dawns for Yangon bus system
Today it begins – Yangon’s brand new experiment in public transport. In a major step toward reducing consumer chaos and hazardous competition among private bus lines, the number of routes has been reduced to only 61, starting on January 16.
On January 14, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein announced that no further applications from would-be bus owners would be accepted. As of today, about 3700 “official” buses will be plying the streets, not counting BM and Dyna vehicles used to transport passengers.
“All the bus owners involved in the new system will be operating their lines, and no more applications will be considered,” said the chief minister. Nor will unregistered bus companies be allowed to use compressed natural gas provided by the city.
“All registered buses will be able to use CNG, which will be allocated to them on an equal basis. But buses that are not registered will no longer have access,” said U Phyo Min Thein.
There are 41 CNG filling stations in Yangon, of which 10 can be used only by taxis.
The chief minister said steps had been taken to speed up refuelling, and to remove delays in the system. “The buses can fill their tanks from the CNG quota allocated to their company. This should reduce the time required to fill up. We will also open a new CNG filling station to be owned by the public-private partnership companies [PPP] providing the public transport [services],” he said.
The number of authorised lines has now been reduced to 61, four more than had been envisaged last week. More lines might be added in light of the experience with the new system, the government said.
Yangon Road Transport Authority secretary U Than Win said, “We may need to add one or two feeder lines. All buses have been graded A, B, C or D and the quality of the service they provide to passengers will be monitored. For short routes we will use about 55 buses and for longer routes up to 117 buses.”
Buses graded D must be replaced by newer models after three months.
“We will implement a scheme to buy new buses. Before we installed the PPP system, we operated a collaborative system. After three months we will bring in buses with CCTV and GPS systems, as well as a card system for paying fares. People will have time to get used to it, but attitudes will change,” said U Phyo Min Thein.