Crossing Cambodia

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

'Public' Transport

Different innovative ways are thought of to curtail the increasing traffic jams in Phnom Penh. This one ranks quite high. Here's the link to the story originally from the Cambodia Daily (2-1-2007).

Anyway, all buses will be 'blocked' from entering the city so as to avoid traffic jams. The article states that there are 300 buses which compare to the capitol's other vehicles: 120,000 cars and some 470,000 motorcycles, so such an obvious bus regulation would not seem to be effective.

At current, all provincial buses (and even international buses) can drive to the city's central market, and do all their on- and offloading there. Of course in the absence of any mass public transport within the city this is quite convenient as most people can continue to their city destination by either a tuk-tuk and/or motorcycle, without much cost. Barring these buses from the city's interior results in passengers having to use these alternatives (the tuk-tuks / moto's) for longer stretches resulting in higher costs, sometimes even higher than that needed for the long distance journey itself, and by using the alternatives possibly these would contribute more to congestion than the original buses.

But in all fairness, once on the road the buses are no problem. But they tend to park their buses for longer stretches of time straight on the road in already heavily congested areas, which is a problem for traffic flow.

One small detail is that a Malaysian bus company, which has some sort of contract, would allow to stay in the city centre ....

What this reflects, is the total disregard by the government to take effective measures to maintain access by the public to roads which are in essence public. By barring buses from entering the city, passengers (mostly those that can not afford a car) are expected to pay more for the same journey. The effectiveness is in question, as the same passengers (presumably) now all need a (semi-) private vehicle for a much longer distance which actually means more congestion rather than less. And the measure is questionable as the government virtually gives one player a monopoly.

What the government should be doing is:
  • either looking into building a centrally based bus station which ensures equal access to all potential passengers
  • or building a bus station (or several depending on the destination) on the outskirts of the city and making low-cost onward travel in any form (bus, minibus, tram, train, etc., etc.) possible.

Why the government still does not seem to look into mass transport systems for the capital beats Crossing Cambodia. With current levels of growth in traffic the city will increasingly become congested. Addressing this congestion can not be effectively met by widening a couple of roads and barring buses from the center.
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