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PM threatens to double down on free bus plan

One hundred 50-seat city buses, donated to Phnom Penh by China, are lined up last year. Photo supplied
One hundred 50-seat city buses, donated to Phnom Penh by China, are lined up last year. Photo supplied

PM threatens to double down on free bus plan

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday threatened private transportation companies that raise prices during the Khmer New Year holiday, saying the government would provide 200 buses for the capital’s residents to travel to the provinces for free next year if private companies continued to hike rates.

Earlier this month, the premier announced 60 buses would be available for free transport along national roads 1 and 5, and later expanded the service to include national roads 3, 4 and 6. City Hall, which is in charge of the service, has said seat distribution will operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, and said they would not be issuing tickets.

“This is the first test, at least we could deliver thousands of people by our city bus service,” Hun Sen said yesterday. “We will look to our experience, whether transportation companies still increase their prices. If they do, we will use 200 city buses, which will cause transportation companies to collapse.”

“We will take over the road, and this is the government’s road,” he added.

Pen Sotheary, a manager at private taxi service Mekong Express, welcomed the news yesterday and said that the company had not increased its prices for the past two years.

“[The service] is good for people who are looking for free rides to their hometowns,” she said. “It will not impact us, we have customers who always support us and like our service.”

Sotheary said in the past, the company increased prices because traffic jams during the national holidays led to more gasoline usage, and employees had to be paid overtime to work during the holiday season.

“If the government looks to the price of gasoline . . . then the ticket prices will not increase” she said.

Representatives at Phnom Penh Sorya and Capitol, two other large bus companies in Phnom Penh, declined to comment yesterday.

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