Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government to offer free bus services to provinces for Khmer New Year

Government to offer free bus services to provinces for Khmer New Year

A Phnom Penh municipal bus seen last year.
A Phnom Penh municipal bus seen last year. Moeun Nhean

Government to offer free bus services to provinces for Khmer New Year

The government plans to provide limited free bus services on a first-come, first-served basis along National Roads 1 and 5 during the week of Khmer New Year, though how such a plan will be implemented remains unclear.

Sixty buses are set to run from April 12 to April 18 and will leave Phnom Penh at 5:30am each morning after their seats are filled, according to Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey.

The city’s plan was in direct response to an announcement of a free bus service from Prime Minister Hun Sen on his Facebook page on Sunday, so Measpheakdey said City Hall would be using the next week to finalise their preparations.

When asked if there would be a ticketing system to manage the crowds or determine who would get a seat on the free buses, the spokesman said it would be determined based on who sat down on the bus first.

“We wouldn’t issue any ticket and we have no requirements, it is first-come, first-served and free of charge,” Measpheakdey said. “The bus will leave when the seats are full, and further information about stops and destinations will be announced later.”

About 60 of the city’s public buses, many of which were donated by China last year, will be used to ferry passengers from three loading points in the city.

Buses currently operating in the city have either 25, 35 or 50 seats, likely meaning the maximum number of passengers that could ride in a single day would be about 3,000, or about 0.15 percent of Phnom Penh’s population. Measpheakdey declined to provide specifics about the size of the buses that would be used.

Private taxi drivers, who often charge a premium during holidays when demand for taxi services is higher, had mixed reactions to the announcement yesterday.

Noun Chhunry, a van driver who hauls passengers from Phnom Penh to Pursat province along National Road 5, was unhappy with the announcement, saying that the premier’s political calculation would cost him money.

“I will have fewer clients and make a lower profit, and holidays are my big earning days,” he said. “I know this is the political interest. It is true [Hun Sen] will earn favour for the election.”

But Bona Seng, a driver who also works along National Road 5 from Phnom Penh to Battambang, said he wasn’t concerned about the potential impact of the decision.

“I’m glad to hear this from the prime minister; it will help those who don’t make much money,” he said.

“A million passengers are going to leave for Khmer New Year, more or less. I am sure I will get clients on that day.”

Measpheakdey acknowledged that the move would likely hurt some drivers, but said that the government providing a free service in direct competition with local businesspeople was part of the free market.

“We should be concerned with everyone’s interests,” he said. “For sure, it would hurt some local business drivers, but it is the free market, no matter if it is from the government or not.”

The three pickup destinations are planned at the intersection of National Road 4 and Kob Srov Road; the new Freedom Park in Russey Keo district; and near the Mercedes outlet on Hun Sen Boulevard, according to the spokesman.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro