City Bus: A Solution to the Traffic Jams?

In Phnom Penh, we have traffic jams every day, especially during the rush hours in the morning (07-08:30 am) and in the evening (05-06:30 pm). The reasons behind are:

  • The economic development in the past ten years, an average growth of 7% per annum of GDP, has brought some prosperity to a good section of the society. People could afford to buy cars and motor bikes. In my family, a family of five persons, we have two cars and two motor bikes. Some of the newly rich families, they even have many more cars. It means that we have more and more vehicles on the same roads designed and constructed fifty years ago, when Phnom Penh has just hundred thousands of inhabitants.
  • Population increased from one million to estimated three million by now. According to the official data, the capital has 1.5 million. But, we have around 500,000 garment workers living in the city’s suburbs and hundreds of thousands of construction workers living here as well.
  • In addition to the increasing numbers of vehicles driving behavior contributes significantly to the traffic jams. Many people just do not know the basic driving principle “right before left”, who has “priority”, which line I should use? Etc. One thing that many people know just: “drive ahead the way I could. I do not care for others”.
  • About 10% of the road users do not respect traffic lights. They just try to go ahead and causing road blockades to other users and even causing accidents. It is a pity that the trend is increasing.
  • Heavy and long trucks, though officially forbidden from 21 pm till 05 am, could still be seen during day’s light in the city’s centers. These trucks are causing traffic jams, traffic accidents, destroying the roads, creating huge dust for people living along the roads and creating noise and environmental pollution.
  • Last, but not least is poor city planning and traffic management. Restaurants, banks or shops are allowed to be opened in the already busy roads intersections. Even some of the public bus stations were sold and many private bus companies now have own stations across the cities.

The Municipality, in collaboration with JICA, now will try the second times to introduce the City Bus, starting with one line from Chroy Chngvar to Chba Ampov. One ticket costs 1,500 Riel or $0.37. The first pilot project was introduced few years ago, but failed, and the test was put on halt in after one month. It remains to be seen how this second try will work.

City Bus advertisement board

City Bus advertisement board

The City Bus was functioning well in the seventies. I still remembered when I was living in Phnom Penh from 1973 to 1975. I used to travel by bus in different directions, some time just to enjoy the ride, since it was cheap and was convenient too. I did not have motorbike and the bus is quicker than riding on my bicycle. The situation now is much different since many people could afford motorbikes. In addition, the use of “motor taxi” is quite common, flexible, fast and plenty to get the service; at every corner. Under hot weather, Cambodians do not want to wait or let alone to walk.

Let’s hope that the try bears good result this time and the City Bus could help to ease the traffic problems in our Municipality.

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