JICA and Phnom Penh Capital Administration (PPCA) have embarked on a four-year technical cooperation to enhance the operation and management of the city bus system, which was fully opened to the public in late 2014.
Called “The Project for Improvement of Public Bus Operation in Phnom Penh” (PiBO), the initiative has been in place since January 2017.
In line with PiBO, Japan provided 80 buses in 2018 to the City Bus Authority (CBA) under Japanese Grant Aid.
With the new fleet, CBA expanded its service network from three lines in 2016 to 13 lines in 2018, covering the majority of Phnom Penh.
This also helped to increase ridership – from 7,000 passengers per day in 2017 to around 30,000 in 2019.
However, since the beginning of this year, the city bus operation and PiBO project have been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.
PPCA and CBA announced the temporary suspension of bus services on March 26 as part of the measures to prevent the spread of the virus. As a consequence, several ongoing PiBO activities, including pilot projects, have been suspended.
Despite the suspension of services and further challenges caused by the Covid-19 crisis, JICA’s PiBO team and the CBA are working together to develop an operation and recovery plan that includes mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
These measures are to ensure the safety of passengers during the outbreak and in the post-pandemic period.
Some of the initiatives include the regular cleaning and disinfection of vehicles and equipment, social distancing on buses and training in hygiene and prevention measures, as well as the provision of preventative equipment.
Some of the action taken has been disseminated through the media and via CBA’s Facebook page to help maintain passenger trust in public transport both during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
In line with the operation and recovery plan, and the installation of preventive equipment, the city’s bus operations are expected to resume by the end of this year.