RANGOON — A pioneering public bus company in Rangoon will launch its initial line on Feb. 12, along a route being touted as the start of Burma’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, according to an official, who added that shares in the venture will remain on sale until the end of next month.
Maung Aung, an adviser to the Ministry of Commerce who leads a committee responsible for forming the public company, said the first bus line will run a loop from 8 Mile junction south down Pyay Road, then east along Bogyoke Aung San Road before returning north via Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, with 18 new buses due to ply the route.
“We will start with the first route, and then we will expand the routes with the arrival of more buses,” Maung Aung said.
The bus fare will be a flat rate 300 kyats, he said.
The BRT is aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the commercial capital. The rollout is being divided into phases, and the first phase of the project is projected to require a total of 25 billion kyats (US$19.2 million) in capital. Through a public-private partnership, the government will provide 10 billion kyats, a 40 percent stake, with the remaining 15 billion kyats available to shareholders.
Maung Aung said that so far 670 people had bought shares valued at 1.4 billion kyats, with shares priced at 100,000 kyats each on sale beginning Nov. 3. The share sale was initially due to conclude at the end of this month.
Five private firms, described by Maung Aung as “founders” of the new bus company, have put down a total of at least 2.5 billion kyats so far, and will ultimately each hold 2 billion kyats in shares.
The streets of Rangoon are currently plied by thousands of buses owned by hundreds of small, private companies. Some 2.2 million people make use of 365 bus lines across the city of 5.4 million, according to Hla Aung, chairman of the Rangoon Region Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles.