RANGOON — After just over two weeks of service, Rangoon’s new public transit system will see the installation of GPS devices on its bus fleet, in order to better monitor buses’ locations and the actions taken by conductors.
The new Yangon Bus Service (YBS) replaced the 300 bus lines registered under the Rangoon Motor Vehicles Supervisory Committee—known as Ma Hta Tha—with around 70 bus lines on Jan. 16. The new system downsized the bus lines to eliminate overlapping routes.
Dr. Maung Aung, secretary of the Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA) told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that a private company called B Smart is providing the GPS devices and has installed them in more than 100 buses out of some 4,000 buses currently in operation.
“We have planned to install them in every operating fleet except the Dyna light trucks and BM buses,” Dr. Maung Aung said.
The installation is set to be finalized in April if there are no unforeseen difficulties, said U Than Win, the joint secretary of the YRTA. The YRTA will have to reportedly pay 400 kyats (US$0.29) to B Smart per day for use of the service.
Ko Thet Tin Win, aka Ko Ta Yote Lay, the owner of Power Eleven Co., which operates with 69 vehicles under YBS, told The Irrawaddy that tracking the buses with GPS devices would reduce human resource requirements in overseeing the network.
“The staff will become more productive in managing buses and conductors,” Ko Ta Yote Lay said.
“They can monitor the locations of and the distances between individual buses. They can also supervise the bus conductors to see if they follow regulations and behave properly,” he added.
According to Ko Ta Yote Lay, the chief minister ordered the prioritized installation of GPS devices on buses that had received the most complaints of violations to regulations.
Since its launch, volunteer groups have voiced concern about YBS’s insufficient number of buses, as not all previous bus owners registered with the YRTA to operate under the new system. Still others were not ready to serve, which led to overcrowding, delays and short supply, especially late in the evenings.
Commuters have also complained that some drivers and conductors have yet to change old habits, such as competing with other buses for passengers and taking long, unscheduled breaks at bus stops to take on more commuters.
Dr. Maung Aung said that the YRTA has been handling traffic violations of the YBS buses seriously—harsh punishments doled out will reportedly include dismissal from the YBS network.
He said that the government would import another 1,000 vehicles from China and Korea to address insufficient number of buses serving the city’s commuters.
The YRTA aims to implement a digital payment system in YBS buses in the next phase of the project, when the new imported buses arrive in Rangoon. Vehicles manufactured after 1995 are currently allowed for temporary use and comprise around 70 percent of the buses operating under the new system, according to the YRTA.