City Link Transportation Co launched on Friday an inter-city bus service that aims to provide modern facilities and target travellers who would pay a higher price in return for better services.
The new service will use buses equipped with massage chairs, TV screens, a guide, passenger insurance and drivers who follow traffic rules, according to Ho Vandy, CEO and co-founder of City Link Transportation. Vandy said the new service will help improve the quality of surface transport options for both locals and international tourists.
“We will not compete in term[s] of price, but we will compete in term[s] of quality. It is more of a long-term vision. With this standard, we will be able to compete and integrate with the ASEAN Economic Community by the end of this year,” he said.
The buses will run five times daily between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and from the Cambodian capital to Sihanoukville, costing around $12 to $14. The service will expand its routes in the future to connect Phnom Penh to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Pakse in Lao. The company will start its service with a fleet of 20 buses, as well as luxury cars for rental.
“The plan is first to get into domestic destinations. Then we will expand to neighbouring countries. In the future, we will work with tour agencies in and outside Cambodia for tour packages around ASEAN and lower the cost of travelling,” Vandy added.
Chhim Chamnan, representative of Sorya Transportation Company, said a new player meant increased competition in the transportation industry, but remains optimistic of retaining his company’s share in the market.
“Our company is providing a cheaper bus fare. By strengthening our service, we can still attract passengers, as there are still passengers who seek low bus fares,” he said.
Sok Chanmony, president of the Cambodia Bus Association, said the new company reflects the development of transportation services in Cambodia, which has more than 30 bus companies, by introducing a higher standard. He was, however, unsure if the market was ready for a VIP bus service.
“Most Cambodian passengers are opting for cheap bus fares. Existing companies need to improve and upgrade their services to keep attracting passengers. The road infrastructure and traffic in Cambodia also need to be improved, so that the bus operators can achieve better performance,” he said.