Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol has urged Phnom Penh residents to use the capital’s existing public transport services rather than private vehicles, as it is leading to increased traffic congestion.
He also called for the city’s public bus system to be expanded, with the introduction of bus lanes and an increased number of routes.
Chanthol was speaking at the “Mobility in Downtown Areas” forum attended by some 100 senior government officials, experts, the private sector and members of civil society on Thursday.
Travel solutions for the capital were discussed, including the use of the latest technology and systems as in other countries in the region, to improve mobility in urban areas with enhanced safety and inclusivity while protecting the environment.
Chanthol said the widespread use of personal vehicles in Phnom Penh was leading to increased congestion, with studies being carried out on transport solutions such as railways and subways, as well as waterway services.
He called on Phnom Penh residents to use the city’s public transport network to ease traffic congestion.
“I request all people to use the city’s public transport services, such as buses. We must ensure buses are able to travel freely and are not stuck in traffic. It is important that special lanes for public buses are introduced, and the number of stops and routes increased,” he said.
Chanthol said there are currently around 1.8 million vehicles in Phnom Penh, of which half a million are cars, with nearly 40,000 tuk-tuks, while the rest are motorcycles. The number of motorbikes in the city increased by around 300,000 a year, he said.
Nick Beresford, the UN Development Programme (UNDP ) resident representative in Cambodia, acknowledged the basic role of sustainable transport in achieving a desirable future.
He highlighted the Sustainable Urban Mobility for All Initiative (Sumai) project, which supports technology in urban areas for sustainable and inclusive transport through the strengthening of national capacity and management systems.
“There is encouragement to have innovation in smart transport technology, aimed at speeding up progress in safety and mobility for all,” Beresford said.
Penny Low, a former member of parliament in Singapore and the founder of Social Innovation Park, said countries in the region were using advanced technology in their public transport systems, with Phnom Penh also having great potential for smart city development.
“I think that as Minister Sun Chanthol has this initiative, it can improve this effort. As we have been aware, joint travel through public transport services is better than travelling alone by personal vehicles. I think this is an initiative to be used as an example for the better.”
Phnom Penh currently has a two million population, with it set to increase to 2.8 million by 2035, Chanthol said.
He said experts have warned that without the modernisation of mobility in Phnom Penh, traffic congestion, air pollution and road safety in the capital would become increasingly difficult to address.