Rangoon Public Bus Companies Aim to Launch Services in Early 2017

By Tin Htet Paing 22 December 2016

RANGOON—Rangoon public bus companies aim to start operating in early 2017 as a total of eight companies have been selected, according to the Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA).

The existing bus networks in the city are notorious for poor maintenance standards, misconduct by bus staff and a failure to respect traffic rules. The transport authority previously said that the bus lines would be merged into around 50 lines to be regulated more easily by the authority body.

Among the eight selected companies, the Yangon Bus Public Co., Ltd (YBPC)—the city’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) system—is a pioneering public company launched in February this year. Its buses currently traverse three routes in the city and provide an electronic ticketing service.

Dr. Maung Aung, the secretary of the transport authority and the chairperson of Yangon Bus Public Company, said that the newly formed bus lines would provide the same service as his YBPC.

“We can’t say when the others will be launching as not all companies are ready for the operation,” Dr. Maung Aung told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

Currently, the city’s buses are individually owned and operated under the Yangon Division Motor Vehicles Supervisory Committee, popularly known by the Burmese-language acronym Ma Hta Tha. Over 7,800 buses are registered in Rangoon and about 4,000 buses, on some 300 bus lines, run daily for the city’s commuters.

Daw Nilar Kyaw, Rangoon’s minister for electricity, industry and transportation as well as the chair of the YRTA, said in a divisional parliamentary session held in early December that regional government had been drawing up a plan to supervise the city’s buses and taxis using GPS technology. She also cited individual ownership and operation of buses in Rangoon as a major cause of traffic congestion in the city of 5.2 million.

U Hla Aung, chairman of the Ma Hta Tha and a member of the YRTA, told The Irrawaddy that the majority of his Ma Hta Tha staff willlikely be shifted to the authority body to manage the new public bus companies after Ma Hta Tha is abolished.

“As [the YRTA] is responsible for managing all transportation sectors in the city, it will be in need of staff,” he said. “It is highly possible that a majority of Ma Hta Tha’s existing employees will have to transfer to the YRTA.”

The selected public companies will include Bandoola Transportation Co. Ltd., run by the military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd., (MEHL) as well as many other existing private bus line operators.

According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) 2014 survey on the public transportation in Rangoon,the bus dominance is 49 percent while the modal share of the public transportation is 61 percent.