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Bus routes on their way to Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh might have a bus service by early next year after City Hall named two bus companies to start running routes through the capital.

Lim Andre, chief executive officer of Global (Cambodia) Trade Development, who along with City Trans Cambodia beat a handful of competitors to win the licence, said his company plans to employ a fleet of 90 buses along four lines around Phnom Penh and from Takhmao, Kandal province.

“If the first operation is successful, our firm will expand another two lines operation,” he said.

Passengers could expect to pay about 1,300 riel for a bus fare along one route, Lim said, or buy a monthly ticket for US$11 with unlimited use.

The absence of a public transport system in a growing city of 1.5 million people has been the subject of much debate.

In 2001, the Japan International Cooperation Agency developed an urban transport master plan for Phnom Penh with a target year set for 2015. During this project, a citywide bus service was tried but struggled to compete with the established and affordable moto trade.

The entire master plan was eventually dropped, citing fast-changing traffic conditions and growth in the city’s suburban residential areas. In April the beginnings of another urban transport plan for Phnom Penh were made with a JICA research team and the government.

Long Dimanche, spokesman for Phnom Penh City Hall, said yesterday that the decision to tender the capital’s bus system to the chosen bus companies was made after consultation with research firm SYstar.

“Putting public buses in place will help ease traffic congestion, reduce costs and reduce the number of cars in the street,” Dimanche said.

The exact number of vehicles and bus routes, as well as a timeframe, had yet to be finalised, Dimanche said, but he expected the service to start in early 2013.

But introducing buses won’t necessarily ease traffic congestion, Ching Chhom Mony, Dean of Architecture and Urbanism at the Royal University of Fine Arts, said.

Bus stop locations had to be looked at to ensure frequently stopping buses didn’t add to traffic problems. A comprehensive network, however, would help people overcome their reliance on motos, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Sarom and Rosa Ellen at newsroom@phnompenhpost.com

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