The Phnom Penh Municipal Hall on Friday announced a plan to provide limited free bus services from Phnom Penh to the provinces during the Pchum Benh week later this month, and free city buses and boat taxis for everyone during the five days.
Additionally, the municipal government said it will extend its city bus and boat taxi fare-waiver programme for workers until September 2021.
An announcement signed by Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng on Friday read that the fare-waiver programme, which has been in effect since 2017, will be extended to September 1, 2021, from its previous September 1, 2019 end date.
“[Prime Minister] Hun Sen has allowed the Phnom Penh Administration to continue not taking any fares from workers who travel by either city buses or boat taxis, but [they must] show their work IDs to the service providers. The move will increase living standards as well as reduce travel expenses,” read the letter.
The administration also released another letter on the same day listing the departure points for the free shuttles to the provinces during the upcoming holiday.
The plan will see 120 buses deployed for five days between September 26 and 30, it said.
The prime minister’s decision seeks to facilitate family reunions in hometowns for Phnom Penh residents during the upcoming holiday, it said, adding that city buses and boat taxies will be provided in the capital free of charge to everyone during the five days.
The authorities called on private transportation companies not to hike prices during the holidays and cooperate with the government in improving standards of living.
Bun Kimsan, a worker at W&D factory in Phnom Penh and an occasional city bus rider, said he welcomed the government’s provision of free transportation, which he said could alleviate some of the burdens for workers.
“They may be free, but city buses are a little bit slow and are susceptible to traffic congestion. And for factories, we [workers] don’t have the time it takes to go by bus,” he complained.
Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina noted that workers commuting on public transport remain limited due to traffic jams in the capital. “Workers may get to their workplaces late if they used the transportation service,” he said.
Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said it is ready to implement the order and provide better services for the people, garment workers and students.
“We’ve already prepared our city buses and drivers. There is nothing to be concerned about,” he said.
He said daily commuters on the authority’s 235 buses and four taxi boats are 25,000, of which 60 per cent ride free of charge.