From April 13 to 17, around 50,000 passengers took over 400 buses to their home for Khmer New Year celebrations, utilising a free service organised by the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration, according to its spokesman Meth Meas Pheakdey.

Since 2018, except for the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the City Hall has provided free bus service to the provinces using its fleet of Citybus buses during the Pchum Ben and Khmer New Year holidays.

Pheakdey said that along National Road 6 in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces, there were nearly 20,000 passengers transported on over 100 buses, followed by Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces along National Road 5.

“The rollout of buses at this time received more support than previously, for example compared to the last Pchum Ben festival, which had just over 30,000 passengers. This year we had an additional 20,000 passengers. We don’t bother to compare the numbers for the Covid years,” he said.

He added that the increase in the use of the free bus service was because people were more aware of it now and had received clear information about the free bus service through an advertising campaign and they made the service easier to use as well.

A Citybus driver on duty on April 14. CITYBUS

“Year after year, some of our people knew about it and some did not know. Some knew, but they had their own means of transport they were familiar with. However, this year, the public learned more about it and so they knew to take advantage of the offer more widely.

“Also, once they had experienced using it once or twice, people found they were satisfied with it and told others. Our buses are safe, spacious, air-conditioned and have comfortable seats with assigned seat numbers. Overall, it’s a comfortable way to travel and there were no downsides to it and they saved money,” he said.

A passenger identified herself only as Socheat took the free bus service for her third time this holiday to visit her home in Siem Reap province. She said that she planned to continue taking these buses because it cut down on spending and the free service was safe and easy to use for travel.

“The bus service is good, so I like to use it. It is safe to ride these buses and the bus company employees are friendly with us. The driver also drove us safely,” she added.