Rangoon Chief Minister Urges Patience During Public Transit Reform
By Tin Htet Paing 17 January 2017
RANGOON — As Rangoon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein visited a bus terminal in Ahlone Township on Tuesday, he urged the city’s commuters to be patient during public transit network reform and called for greater cooperation from individual bus owners.
The chief minister stopped at a bus terminal in Ahlone’s Thakhin Mya Park and took a mini-bus downtown to assess the newly reformed network.
“The old bus network dates back to 1962,” U Phyo Min Thein said. “I myself, our [regional] government, or the Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA) alone won’t be able to reform such a system immediately. We need public collaboration.”
He added that stakeholders—bus owners and daily commuters— are key players in the new system and called for constructive criticism.
The new Yangon Bus Service (YBS) replaced the former capital’s notorious bus system—the Rangoon Motor Vehicles Supervisory Committee, also known by the Burmese acronym Ma Hta Tha—with 69 bus lines on Monday. The regional government announced last week that the new bus lines would serve the city’s commuters from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily with nearly 4,000 vehicles.
However, long waits were observed at bus stops and many pointed to an insufficient number of buses traversing the routes on the first day of the new system. Many buses were not ready on time and did not serve commuters on the first day.
The regional government hopes the new system will relieve some of the traffic congestion in the hub of the city, limiting the bus lines that serve downtown.
About 4,000 volunteers from different philanthropic and charity organizations led by regional lawmakers were present at some 2,000 bus stops across the city on Monday, helping commuters with directions.
The chief minister said he appreciated that the city’s commuters and volunteers eagerly supported the reform with patience, and that the bus reform represented an important transition for the country. The volunteers will be present until Friday assisting commuters with the shift to the new system.
“It’s just a system reform and we still have to improve the condition of the vehicles,” the chief minister added.
He again pledged on Tuesday to enforce regulations pertaining to bus conductors and drivers and promised serious action for any violations. He added that the YRTA would review all public suggestions and recommendations received so that a sustainable bus network system is established.
According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s 2014 survey on public transportation in Rangoon, 61 percent of Rangoon’s population relies on public transportation and 49 percent of all commuters use the bus—approximately 2.6 million people.