Yellow buses from China brighten Yangon’s rush-hour mood

YANGON — One-thousand yellow buses from China are bringing a bit of order to Yangon’s notorious rush-hour traffic — and becoming local symbols of convenience and modernization.

As the sun sets in Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, the streets are packed with taxis and private vehicles, horns blaring. Drivers switch lanes, looking for any advantage they can find. The yellow buses stand out in the traffic, plying fixed routes.

“Please move to the back and make room,” a bus driver calls through a microphone as residents dressed in traditional longyi board one after another. The vehicle features a surveillance monitor beside the driver and automatic voice announcements.

The fixed-route network is called the Yangon Bus Service, or YBS. Multiple government-affiliated and private companies run the buses under license on a total of about 90 routes.

The buses crisscross the city of 5 million people, linking the center with residential areas, industrial parks and other destinations.

YBS got off to a chaotic start in January 2017. Before the service’s inception, there were about 300 bus routes, including those traveled by small private companies. With the introduction of YBS, the routes were initially consolidated to around 60, sparking complaints from commuters.

Many lamented long waiting times and said it was a pain to change buses. Nearly a year later, however, the Chinese buses were rolled out, and residents have begun to see YBS in a more positive light.

“I feel much more comfortable in the new buses than the old ones because they are air-conditioned,” said an office worker in his 40s. He added that the “traffic congestion has been eased,” since small buses that had disrupted the flow were eliminated.

More transportation enhancements are in the pipeline.

The Yangon Region Transport Authority, or YRTA, which has jurisdiction over YBS, plans to introduce an electronic bus fare payment system using IC cards. And the government earlier this year initiated a tender process for a 47.5 km elevated highway in the city.

Engineering work for upgrading Yangon’s circular railway also commenced in March, backed by a soft loan from the Japanese government.

Source: Nikkie Asian Review

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