Major bus network reforms to begin within three months

Under the plan, the ministry will partner with owners to form a single association or company to manage the sector, ending competition between owners and effectively bringing it under state control.

The plan would see old buses removed from the roads and staff paid a salary rather than incentives. Each bus owner would receive a dividend based on the number of vehicles they owned that were used by the new entity, which advocates say will improve service on less profitable routes.

Ministry adviser U Mg Aung said the first steps toward establishing the program would begin within three months. Other strategies include introducing school buses for downtown Yangon high schools and improved access to car parking.

The three programs were developed at “Convenience for Public Transportation” workshops held on November 1 and December 2.

More than 80 percent of Yangon’s population of 5.4 million relies on buses for transportation. However, the system is poorly coordinated, with 6500 buses owned by more than 5000 individuals servicing about 360 routes.

The Ministry of Commerce will offer incentives to owners to replace their second-hand buses with new vehicles, U Mg Aung said, while those not already in the sector will also be invited to invest with the new entity.

The PPP will require parliamentary approval of a law laying out a framework for the program and the allocation of necessary funding, he said, adding that the government may cover some of the cost of replacing old vehicles.

“We will not use old cars. We estimate each new bus will cost about US$150, 000 but will hold discussions with owners to identify the best way to implement the system so that everyone benefits.”

U Mg Aung said participants at the workshops agreed that the bus system’s main problem was the financial incentives for workers to take as many passengers as possible.

Rather than receive a salary, the driver and conductor pay a set fee to the owner and they keep the profit made after the fee is recouped.

“The buses compete with and bully each other. If the PPP system is established and the bus workers get a guaranteed income, the problem will be solved. The buses can run on time and there will be fewer traffic jams,” U Mg Aung added.

U Hla Aung, chair of the Yangon Region Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles, said he supported the move toward greater government involvement in the public transport system.

“We want the government to cooperate so that we can carry it out as soon as possible,” he said.

He added that the PPP model would encourage owners to cooperate rather than compete.

“All buses will be owned by all owners … and they will get a fair income,” he said.

U Myo Win, who owns seven buses on the No 31 line, said he also welcomed the system. He and his family owned 7 buses in total.

“But to be successful there needs to be a law and bus workers need to get paid enough,” he said. “The government must make sure both of these needs are met.”


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