Phnom Penh’s public transportation sector is set for a boost with the arrival of 100 buses from China, with additional bus routes expected to be added to accommodate the rollout of the bus fleet.
City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said five additional bus routes will be created in Phnom Penh in early July with the new lines covering some of the major roads, such as Street 271.
“The 100 public buses will be rolled out to expand on the old lines,” he added.
All 100 buses, which arrived at Sihanoukville’s port earlier this week, are completely new and will be able to hold 50 passengers per bus. The first 20 buses will arrive in Phnom Penh at the end of the week.
According to Measpheakdey, the buses were donated by China to help Phnom Penh reduce car traffic while also improving access to public transport. He said he was unaware of the total value of the bus donation.
“An efficient public transportation service is very important for a city with an increasing population such as Phnom Penh,” Measpheakdey said.
On average, Measpheakdey said 6,000-7,000 people utilise the city’s bus services. Fifty-seven buses cover three routes at present. However, with an additional 100 buses set to hit Phnom Penh in just a matter of days, Measpheakdey expects this figure to double in time.
It currently costs 1,500 riel to catch the bus, but public transport is free for students, people with disabilities, monks and the elderly. Measpheakdey assured that ticket prices would remain unchanged as the new buses are rolled out.
While public transportation is expanding in Phnom Penh, Measpheakdey acknowledged that City Hall still needed to tackle other pressing issues, such as creating more parking lots and footpaths.
Institute for Road Safety director Ear Chariya applauded the move to expand the city’s public transport service.
“Public transport helps make the city more beautiful, better protects the environment and helps people who don’t want to spend too much on transportation,” he said.
However, Chariya said Phnom Penh still faced challenges with its public transport system such as delays in bus arrivals.
“City Hall and relevant institutions should address the constraints. I think the number of additional buses should be on busy streets with high traffic. For instance they should pass by markets or schools,” he added.
French language teacher and frequent bus user Srin Manith welcomed the news of more buses being added to the city’s current fleet.
In addition to reducing delays, Manith said the bus system could be improved by ensuring all bus drivers comply with traffic laws.
“I used to travel frequently from home in the Central Market to schools along Russian Bolevard,” said Manith. “The bus was in good condition despite a slight delay.”