NPT Highway Bus Companies Suffering Losses

Buses servicing the Nay Pyi Taw highway route have been suffering from a steady decline of passengers over recent years, with smaller bus companies facing the threat of shutting down.

When the capital was moved from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw in 2005, highway bus companies emerged as an essential service because of the continuous movement of civil servants, private sector workers and migrant workers travelling from across the country to build up the city’s infrastructure.

However, the past few years have seen a slow but steady drop in the number of passengers, with 2016 experiencing the biggest dip.

“Since the National League for Democracy government took over, business is not good compared to previous years. The number of passengers has declined, and the fall will become more significant this year,” Nay Pyi Taw Supervisory Committee for All Buses (Highway) U Win Swe told The Myanmar Times.

The committee supervises the connectivity of Nay Pyi Taw with 43 other cities. The Nay Pyi Taw-Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw-Mandalay bus lines have the highest number of passengers, said U Win Swe,

In 2013, Nay Pyi Taw-Yangon bus service got over 800,000 passengers during the Southeast Asian Games.

But the numbers dropped to 684,568 passengers last year, almost 70,000 less than in 2015.

“It has fallen, it has fallen a lot,” said U Win Swe.

He said that for the Nay Pyi Taw-Yangon buses, the break-even point was at 30 passengers per trip. Last year, the buses only got an average of 28.8 passengers.

The Nay Pyi Taw-Mandalay route had an average of 24.4 passengers per trip in 2015, which dropped to 21.6 and 21.2 passengers in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

The drop in passengers may have affected all the companies’ profits, but it is the smaller bus firms who have been suffering the most and struggling to stay afloat, said U Win Swe.

“Small bus lines have to rely on ticketing agents and passenger brokers by paying K1000 per passenger. The ticket fare is K6300 and when K1000 is deducted, they get only K5300.

“Out of 30 passengers in a bus, only about five people come and buy the tickets personally at the gate,” he said.

Small family-run bus companies have already been forced to close their businesses down, such as Asia bus line, said U Win Swe.

Asia bus line was established before Nay Pyi Taw was made the capital, but it was unable to compete with the bigger companies when there was a drop in passengers.

Some small bus lines are now moving and running business to travel along the old highway.

“Business was very good for the busses from 2005, and some influential people even entered the business to set up large companies. This causes small companies to struggle.

“But the situation now is even worse,” said U Ko Ko Naing from Aung Soe Moe highway bus line.

U Win Swe said some of the reasons for the drop in bus passengers include more people owning private vehicles and an increase in demand for train services.

There are 23 Nay Pyi Taw-based highway bus lines and about 70 bus lines, which are based in other cities but enter Nay Pyi Taw, according to statistics from the Nay Pyi Taw Supervisory Committee for All Buses (Highway).

“Right now, there shouldn’t be any new bus companies. It is highly likely they will lose money. This business is too risky,” said U Win Swe.


Source: The Myanmar Times

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