Five firms selected for bus import plan

Authorities hope the BRT lite plan will bring order out of the near-chaos of Yangon’s multiple privately owned buses in competition with each other. Plans call for a November launch for system.

Six companies had originally signalled interest in supplying buses, though five were ultimately chosen, of which four are also investors in the system. There was no explanation as to why the sixth firm was not selected.

In addition to the new buses, the plan for BRT lite involves dedicate bus lines and improved signalling, with the buses to stop only at major stops. The scheme is based on a 2013 plan by the Japan International Cooperation Agency for a Bus Rapid Transit system, though a less ambitious version of the plan was eventually chosen.

U Maung Aung said of the winners, Greater Man International Trading has proposed importing Chinese brand Higer buses, Capital Development has proposed Chinese-brand King Long City buses, Myanmar Coach Center favoured Korean brand Daewoo, General Arr Mahn Thit Co went with Hyundai Super Aero City and Octagon International Services proposed buses from Swedish manufacturer Scania.

The committee has decided to purchase about 15 of each of the Korean and Chinese brands, and a total of five or 10 Scania busses, as there is a waiting period for the Swedish firm.

U Maung Aung also said that of the winners, only Greater Man is not a direct investor in the project.

Officials have claimed the busses will be up to modern standards, with full air conditioning, left-hand drive, 2015 models, a high-tech ticketing system and regular monthly payments to drivers rather than a commission system.

Four CCTV cameras will also be placed in buses to keep an eye on the drivers and activity.

BRT buses will also have the right of way over regular buses in the right-hand lane, he claimed.

“We particularly want to reduce the amount of time it takes commuters to travel in a bus,” he said. “Many people waste two or three hours every day sitting in the bus.”

Another goal is to make the journeys more comfortable and safe, while encouraging drivers to proceed steadily rather than race for fares. U Maung Aung said that traffic jams are a problem, but are made worse by errant drivers. Promoting travel under one bus owner will help improve the situation.

Fares will decided as fixed prices best on destination, and commuters will have a choice of the normal ticketing system or using iPay. New bus stops have also been designed, and are slated to appear in the coming weeks. The first bus route is to be from 8 Mile junction along Pyay Road, then along Bogyoke Aung San Road, and then to Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, with about 10 stops for the entire route. Downtown, the buses will be on the wide roads of Bogyoke Aung San and Strand.

U Maung Aung said the introduction of the single line could herald a shift away from multiple privately owned bus lines to one company.

“This is the most effective and shortest way to solve traffic jams,” he said. “If the system is successful, everyone will shift to BRT and will no longer use private cars.” U Maung Aung said the company realises it will not turn a profit in the initial phase. It later hopes to sell public shares through announcements in the state-owned newspapers, hoping to pay dividends above the Central Bank of Myanmar’s minimum interest rate for deposits, which is 8 percent.

An improved train network may be the best way to improve public transportation, but that likely cannot be implemented within five years. U Maung Aung said the BRT lote system will be up and running within one year, and the people will rely on buses.

U Maung Aung said the plans would carry forward even if the government is changed. “We must change the system,” he said. “Yangon is very important for our country. We don’t want to let down Yangon. We must save Yangon.”

Source: Myanmar Times

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