A proposal by a regional Member of Parliament to discuss the weaknesses of the public transportation system in the Yangon Region has been submitted to the Yangon Region Hluttaw on April 5.
The regional Hluttaw accepted the proposal, which was submitted by MP U Wai Phyo Han from Insein township, to urge the Yangon Region government to impose stricter rules and regulations relating to public transportation services, specifically related to the newly-launched Yangon Bus Service (YBS).
YBS was launched on January 16 after the Yangon Vehicles Supervisory Committee, known in Myanmar acronym as Ma Hta Tha, was abolished following complaints of unethical bus drivers and assistants.
However, the YBS has been criticised as being equally inefficient.
“The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lite system was introduced on February 7, 2016 before the new government took office and the BRT buses were satisfactory to some extent.
“Everyone expected that there would be no more inconveniences if more BRT buses replaced the Ma Hta Tha bus lines. But it wasn’t like that when it came to changing the system,” said U Wai Phyo Han.
“There were many inconveniences because YBS was changed so hastily without first ensuring proper prior arrangement.
“With the roll-out of YBS, Ma Hta Tha’s bad management and bus drivers and their assistants’ unethical behaviour were supposed to end and it was supposed to be satisfaction for the people,” he said.
“But the bus drivers and their assistants just switched their Ma Hta Tha clothes with YBS’s,” said U Wai Phyo Aung.
He claimed that former Ma Hta Tha members were still a part of the newly-installed Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA).
“YRTA must take a realistic approach when solving the problems of YBS, and the members should be people who are eager and enthusiastic about public transportation.
“When YBS appeared -- during the time when the public’s trust in Ma Hta Tha was lost -- people believed that a change was happening, but it was extremely shocking to discover that the Ma Hta Tha officials were still a part of YRTA and that they still played an integral role in the whole YBS routines.
“In order for people to commute easily, and not waste either time or money, a lot depends on the YBS managements,” said U Wai Phyo Han.
During the transformation from Ma Hta Tha to YBS, there were many weaknesses in the various sectors such as in prior management, administrative, charge and detention, taking of responsibilities, and public education.
In the one week, since YBS took over, there were volunteers and Hluttaw MPs in respective townships that were providing assistance and the previous problems seemed to have been resolved, but the change was short-lived, he said.
“All Hluttaw MPs were only informed about YBS one week before the start of the operation. There was also not enough time for the public to process the information.
“Although there were enough distributions of pamphlets, people couldn’t rely on these as buses did not go according to the designated routes, but rather to other convenient routes.
“There was a mobile application for YBS, but that was also rendered useless because it was not updated and only people with internet access can use it,” said U Wai Phyo Han.
One month after the change to the YBS system, the situation reverted back to how it was under Ma Hta Tha when buses were racing against one another and not following traffic regulations.
Many bus drivers were still not following the stipulated rules and regulations because action was not taken against them. It was also suggested that a complaint centre must be established to process feedback sent by the public, so that necessary action could be made on bus drivers and conductors based on the suggestions.
“We welcome the change from Ma Hta Tha to YBS. But, just after one month, YBS has started to turn into the old Ma Hta Tha,” said U Wai Phyo Han.
Yankin township regional Hluttaw representative Daw Thidar Maw supported U Wai Phyo Han’s proposal and said that the problems in YBS must be resolved immediately, and the government should openly inform the public of the actions taken.
Ko Tayoke Lay, the owner of bus line 21, said that one major problem with the system was the badly-planned bus routes.
“It is good that they will discuss the matter in Hluttaw,” he said.
“Passengers need to change two or three buses to reach most destinations, and we are told that the bus fares, which start from K100, will be adjusted according to the routes.
“But, this is not the correct way to solve the problem. They need to plan new bus routes so that the passengers do not need to change two or three buses.”
A total of 20 Hluttaw representatives will have discussions to solve the problems faced by commuters during the regional Hluttaw session.
The regional minister for electrical power, industry and transportation Daw Nilar Kyaw also supported the proposal to discuss the weaknesses of the YBS and it will be discussed in Hluttaw after the Thingyan holidays.
– Translation by Zar Zar Soe, Kyaw Soe Htet and Swe Zin Moe