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Siem Reap, Battambang next to get public bus service

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Citybus stops on Norodom Blvd in the capital in March of last year. Heng Chivoan

Siem Reap, Battambang next to get public bus service

As public transport services have been planned for Sihanoukville and are likely to emerge in the near future, civil society organizations working to improve road safety have suggested that the government establish such services in other provinces, especially in Siem Reap where the population in town is growing.

Asia Injury Prevention Foundation director Kim Pagna said that the public transport services in provinces such as Siem Reap would be an effective way to contribute to the prevention of accidents caused by cars and motorcycles and would also reduce pollution.

“If possible, such public transport should be focused on serving students and workers with the main goal of reducing congestion, road accidents and pollution. This is something we have to invest in today with an eye towards future profit,” Pagna said.

Although no specific date has been set for the launch of public bus services in Sihanoukville, a coastal tourism destination, Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche told The Post that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration are planning the launch of a public bus service, which he called a necessary requirement for a modern smart city.

Dimanche said that as of now, the administration and the Department of Public Works and Transport expect to have between 60 and 70 buses to start out with, which is enough to operate in and around Sihanoukville. In addition to those buses, a private company also plans to hand over 200 buses to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration for future expansion of operations.

Meng Chhunheng, Director of Urban Public Transport Department, told The Post that in Preah Sihanouk the provincial authorities and the department have already identified four routes while in Siem Reap and Battambang the relevant departments have also studied the situation and set targets for the development of a public bus service.

“Actually, in Siem Reap, the department has been studying this since 2019, but we also must take into account that Siem Reap town is located near ancient monuments and we need to protect the environment, so we do not want to use vehicles run by combustion. We are looking at electric vehicles there and we have studied with other organisations and development partners how to do this, especially with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB),” Chhunheng said.

He said that for other provinces, the Urban Public Transport Department has been given priority for the study to establish public bus services to transport passengers as public transport contributes very effectively to reducing traffic accidents.

“After we organize bus services in [Sihanoukville and Siem Reap], we will look at Battambang, because in these three provincial capitals we want to develop them into smart cities and these are the three cities where development partners are interested in developing both public transport and waste management,” Chhunheng continued.

He further noted that due to the government’s policy to encourage people to use public services there wasn’t much private sector investment taking place in urban transport.

“For investing in this sector, investors do not want to do it because our policy encourages people to use the public services at a very cheap price. Thus, companies are not interested in the investment and only the government can develop these services,” he said.


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