Phnom Penh City Hall has issued a schedule for the 60 buses that will drive people to several provinces for Khmer New Year, confirming the government has no plan to issue tickets but instead will rely on a first-come, first-serve system to allocate seats.

Starting on Thursday and running through April 18, the municipality will assign 10 buses each to national roads 1, 3, 4, and 6, while National Road 5 will get 20 buses, according to municipal spokesman Met Measpheakdey.

The buses will offer free rides and will open their doors at their respective departure points at 5am, he said, adding that once a bus – capable of holding 40 or 50 people – was full, it would leave.

When asked if he was concerned that high demand would cause unruly crowds, injuries from crushing or other potential safety concerns, Measpheakdey said it would not be a problem, and declined to give details of how the system was being organised.

“It will be crowded, but good manners and security will be ensured,” he said. When asked for details about crowd control – for example, if the ministry planned to arrange queues to ensure orderly boarding – the spokesman said, “I cannot explain to you in detail.”

The buses will leave from various points on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and will stop at the provincial halls of each province they drive through, according to Measpheakdey.

“We set up the buses based on demand and distance,” he said yesterday. “If the distance is not far, we can provide two or three trips a day.”

The original bus plan floated by Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this month only included national roads 1 and 5, but the premier added three additional national roads in a Facebook post several days later.

The decision to pilot a free bus service came after years of the prime minister urging transportation companies to not hike prices during the popular travel season, which the premier noted was not very effective.

Departure locations are set to be as follows: near the Mercedes dealership on Hun Sen Boulevard for National Road 1; near the Chaom Chao roundabout for National Road 3; at the intersection of Kob Srov and the national road for National Road 4; near the new Freedom Park in Russey Keo for National Road 5; and close to the roundabout across the Chroy Changvar bridge, near the Chroy Changvar Satellite City for National Road 6.