Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Transport body outlines priority projects

Yangon transport chiefs have pledged to take action within six months to reduce traffic jams and speed the city’s 2.5 million commuters on their way. U Kyi Thein, chairman of the Yangon City Public Transport Authority told The Myanmar Times on May 21 that his authority was considering 10 upgrading projects.

Two of these, Bus Rapid Transit and Intelligent Transport System, would be launched within six months, he said.

“We are planning to upgrade the Yangon transportation system with 10 short- and long-term projects,” he said, adding that some of the long-term projects could take decades to complete.

The Bus Rapid Transit system is designed to get people to and from their destinations in good time without the current problems caused by nose-to-tail buses racing each other down congested streets. It will be introduced initially along Pyay Road, with the intention to extend it to Kabaraye Pagoda and Insein Roads, he said.

At the same time, the transport authority is talking to South Korean and Thai companies about setting up a traffic command and control centre that would coordinate the 42 sets of CCTV cameras to improve adherence to traffic rules while keeping vehicles moving.

“The cameras can only record violations of the law, they can’t stop drivers breaking the law,” said U Kyi Thein.

Longer-term plans to upgrade Yangon’s railways are aimed at reducing road congestion. “There are 2.5 million passengers who commute daily in Yangon. But only 100,000 people use the circular railway lines. Upgrading the lines could increase passenger numbers to 200,000 or 300,000, and so ease the pressure on buses. We are also planning an interchange and a park-and-ride system providing links with buses and taxis, as well as looking at water transportation,” said U Kyi Thein.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is conducting a survey of various types of transportation systems with features Yangon could copy. The survey is expected to be completed next April.

A technical survey is also being proposed that would pave the way for building inner and outer circular elevated roads around Yangon. Funding is expected to come from government loans, subject to hluttaw approval, plus foreign aid and investment.

Commuter U Bo Gyi said he welcomed plans to improve train services in the city. “I have been taking the circle train for about seven or eight years and I think it’s more convenient than the bus,” he said. “But the trains need to be regular – at the moment they are often late. People will use the train more if the service is reliable.”