RANGOON — The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) urged the Rangoon regional government to immediately resolve the problems faced by commuters in the change of city bus systems.
Burma’s former ruling party organized a forum on Friday titled “We Care for Yangon Transport,” where they discussed the challenges faced by commuters on the new Yangon Bus Service (YBS) that was launched by the regional government in January. Bus owners, lawyers, USDP members, and other invitees attended the forum.
The YBS replaced decades-old bus networks supervised by the Rangoon Division Motor Vehicles Supervisory Committee—better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Hta Tha—which were notorious for poor maintenance and mismanagement.
“We have heard there are more inconveniences and difficulties for the public in commuting on the YBS system than on the previous Ma Hta Tha system,” USDP spokesperson Dr. Nanda Hla Myint said at the forum.
If the government had done more prior research on the necessary number of buses and bus routes, if they had gathered public opinions and suggestions, and if they had educated the public on the new bus system prior to launch, then the problems faced by commuters would be far less now, said Dr. Nanda Hla Myint.
But the Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA) has said they performed surveys before the YBS launch. And volunteers surveyed bus commuters during the first week of operations in order to gather feedback for the regional government.
One of the forum attendees, commuter Daw Khin Lay Myint from downtown Rangoon, complained that the insufficient number of buses was still causing overcrowding, delays, long waits at bus stops, and a shortage of buses late in the evenings. She also complained about the harassment of women passengers on overcrowded buses.
“In the past, the buses were just crowded. But now, there is no space between passengers. Our feet can’t even touch the floor sometimes because there are too many commuters on a bus,” she said.
Commuter Ko Kyaw Kyaw Oo from Pazundaung Township complained that he has to pay higher fares under the YBS system because of the number of connections that he makes, and he faces delays in getting to work.
“It has been over a month now,” he said. “They asked us to have a positive mindset about the new buses. But I wonder, if the public does that, will any of the problems get solved?”
Lawyers and experts who attended the forum also pointed out the importance of law enforcement to regulate the companies that operate YBS buses.
USDP spokesperson Dr. Nanda Hla Myint said he was among those who welcomed the bus system change.
“The bus system was changed because we wanted to have a better service than Ma Hta Tha provided. However, the government should have prepared more systematically before the change. Now that the new system is underway, we will suggest ways to make it more efficient for commuters,” he said, adding that the USDP would also present suggestions at Parliament.