Friday, August 18, 2017

Nay Pyi Taw’s buses upgraded

A new class of bus has come to the capital. High-end buses will now run between Nay Pyi Taw’s civil servant wards, municipal staff wards, Myotaw Myoma Market, the 1000-bed hospital and special clinics, Nay Pyi Taw Council chair U Myo Aung said at a launch event yesterday.

“Providing convenient transportation for the people is a duty of local government and Nay Pyi Taw Council has taken responsibility for it,” he said. “We have long-term plans to extend bus lines to all eight Nay Pyi Taw townships. We have set reasonable bus fares by negotiating with respective officials. We might reduce these prices if it is necessary.”

The system will start with 16 buses across three lines. Seven of the buses are owned by Nay Pyi Taw City Development Committee and their fleet will run to Nay Pyi Taw Myoma Market, Gadamar Market, Tharaphi Market and Cherry Market.

Nay Pyi Taw Central Supervisory Committee for All Bus-lines (inner city area) owns six vehicles, which will run to ministries, civil servant wards and the Nay Pyi Taw 1000-bed hospital.

The remaining three are owned by Taw Win Passenger Bus Association and run to Myoma Market, Win Thuzar intersection, and ministries, starting at City Development Guesthouse.

“According to our calculation, it is unlikely that we will make a profit,” Nay Pyi Taw City Development Committee member U Myo Tint told reporters. “Bus drivers and conductors are hired on daily wages. We have set travel time between each bus stop at 15 minutes.”

After an assessment of the current set-up, bus lines will be expanded to Nay Pyi Taw’s local towns: Pyinmana, Lewe and Tatkon. He said this current service aims to be convenient for civil servants.

Nay Pyi Taw Council tested the bus service in August with three vehicles from Taw Win Passenger Bus Association and then solicited feedback from riders. During the trial period, it cost K1000 one-way and K1500 for the entire journey.

Civil servants said that the fee was too high.

“It is a 17-mile round-trip between City Development Guesthouse and Thakya Yanthi Pagoda,” Nay Pyi Taw’s Ma Hta Tha chair U Aung Myint Kyaw told The Myanmar Times. “Fuel currently costs K3300 per gallon. So we have set the price at K500 to travel from civil servant wards to the ministry offices. We hope they can afford it. It costs K1000 roundtrip.”

Currently, light trucks are operating in Pyinmana township, he said, but they do not fit with the city’s character. Plans are in the works for express buses.

“We will tell the vehicle owners to upgrade,” he said. “We will encourage them to buy high quality vehicles. If they need help, we will support them.”

Drivers will make K8000 per day while conductors will make K6000, said Ko Than Zaw Moe from a vehicle company hired by the Nay Pyi Taw government.

“We have to drive carefully,” he said. “We have to treat people well.”

High-quality buses now have 24 seats and there is not much room for extra passengers, said the chair of the Nay Pyi Taw Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles.

“If they do carry extra people, they have to sit near the door,” he said. “We bought buses with aisles and it is not easy to stand in the middle of the cars.”

The bus program in Nay Pyi Taw is convenient for staff who have low salaries and do not own cars or motorcycles, Pyithu Hluttaw International Communication Committee senior clerk Daw Tari Thingar Kyaw said. Therefore, the bus system should be expanded, she said.

“It is good when the bus runs to the ministry offices,” she said. “It is better if the route begins at municipal housing and in the old cities.”


Translation by Zar Zar Soe and Khine Thazin Han