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Free buses to province planned

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A Phnom Penh city bus makes its way through traffic last year. The government says it would provide free bus services during Pchum Ben week. Sreng Meng Srun

Free buses to province planned

The Phnom Penh municipal government has announced a plan to provide limited free bus services along national roads during the Pchum Benh week.

The plan will see 120 buses deployed to “ease people’s travels during the holiday”, the capital’s City Hall said in a statement.

The buses, to be used for interprovincial journeys, are set to run from October 6-11 and will leave Phnom Penh at 5:30am after their seats are filled, it said.

Several routes along the Kingdom’s national roads will be served by the buses which will start their journeys from multiple departure points on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and will stop at the provincial halls of each province as they drive through.

Departure locations are near the Mercedes showroom on Hun Sen Boulevard for National Road 1 and 2; in front of Century Plaza Market for National Road 3 and 4; near the new Freedom Park in Russey Keo for National Road 5; close to the roundabout across the Chroy Changvar bridge, near Chroy Changvar Satellite City for National Road 6 and 7; and at the Km9 bus stop for national road 8.

The municipality will assign 10 buses each to national roads 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7; 15 each to national roads 6 and 8; and 40 for National Road 5.

City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said the programme is aimed at “helping people meet their families during Pchum Ben by reducing their travel expenses and minimising traffic accidents.

“This is a present from Prime Minister Hun Sen. He wishes everyone a happy and safe journey on their visit to see their families in the provinces,” he said.

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director Sorn Chey appreciated the local government’s initiative to provide bus services during the holiday.

However, he suggested that the government needs to set a clear schedule and stopping points to make it easy for passengers.

Moreover, he also suggested the government should take into account the people who live far away from the national roads.

“I suggest the government assist the people whose houses are situated far from the main roads. There’s no public transportation that would take them directly to their homes."

“They still need to pay for a motor taxi to take them there, which is inconvenient. They want to avoid the hassle, so they might opt for private buses eventually,” said Chey.

A similar initiative was carried out by the government during this year’s Khmer New Year in April.

The decision to pilot a free bus service came after years of the prime minister urging transportation companies to not hike prices during popular travel seasons.

In addition to the long-distance bus services, the municipal government also announced the deployment of 95 of the city’s public buses to ferry passengers across Phnom Penh at no charge from October 8-10.

Earlier in April, the Japanese government promised to add 80 units to the city’s fleet of public buses. The Chinese government has also provided around 100 public buses since July last year, said Meas Pheakdey.

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