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Chinese firm to take over, expand bus line

A man collects money for bus tickets from patrons aboard a public bus on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh
A man collects money for bus tickets from patrons aboard a public bus on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh yesterday. Pha Lina

Chinese firm to take over, expand bus line

Move aside tuk-tuks, SUVs and motorbikes, Phnom Penh’s public buses appear to be here to stay.

After a one-month trial with 10 buses running up and down the length of Monivong Boulevard that saw 42,000 passengers hop on board, the capital will soon have a public bus service run by Chinese firm Global (Cambodia) Trade Development, City Hall announced yesterday.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche yesterday said that Global, which already runs a private taxi company, had been selected from a number of private companies that had bid for the rights to take the reins of the fledgling bus service.

The price of tickets would stay at 1,500 riel per ride, Dimanche said, even though such a low price would mean the service is unlikely to be profitable.

“It’s not with JICA [Japan International Cooperation Agency] anymore. From tomorrow, City Hall and the company will start another month [of service] on Monivong Boulevard, and after that, the company will expand more lines to Takhmao, to Russei Keo’s Kilometre Six [commune] and then to street 271, Charles de Gaulle Boulevard and so on,” he said yesterday.

“We and the company know it won’t really make a profit, but they are making sacrifices to provide [the service].”

A woman waits with her bags at one of the bus stops on Monivong Boulevard
A woman waits with her bags at one of the bus stops on Monivong Boulevard yesterday evening. Pha Lina

Masato Koto, who is in charge of developing Phnom Penh’s urban master plan at JICA, which funded the one-month trial that concluded yesterday, said his organisation would now only provide technical and capacity-building support to the bus project.

“[It has been] a success, and if we can sustain the system, we can say a great success,” he said.

An average of 1,700 people took the bus each day for the first two weeks of the trial, according to Dimanche, with numbers dropping to 1,500 during the past two weeks.

“However, we know that people welcome having this service, and we will continue to sustain it. We will not stop it,” he said.

“More than 90 per cent of bus passengers highly appreciated the city bus service,” Dimanche said in a Facebook post, referring to a survey of 1,000 passengers, most of whom rated the service as either “very good” or “good”.

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