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‘Moving Yangon Forward’ towards a better transport system

The question of transportation in Yangon was at the forefront of an event last week.

The Moving Yangon Forward: The Urban Mobility Forum held at a hotel in Yangon on February 20 discussed how mobility and transportation in Yangon can be improved to make the city a more inclusive for all.

The forum saw the participation of representatives from the government, civil society organisations as well as the private sector led by representatives of government, civil society as well as the private sector.

The forum, said to be the first of its kind to be held in Myanmar, was organised in partnership with the Yangon Heritage Trust, Waterbus Yangon, Capital Automotive Ltd, Kargo and Doh Eain.

Among the topics discussed during the forum were travel duration, comfort, safety, transport service reliability and disabled accessibility, the future of mobility in Yangon such as utilisation of smart technology and tools, seamless transition between transport modes and integrated payment, and access to mobility services.

Millions on the move

“Yangon is home to over six million people and stands out as the largest city in the country with a high degree of political, economic and social status.

“It is also the commercial hub of the country. Around 2.8 million people rely on buses, taxis, private vehicles, trains, water buses, and small boats.

Of the total, 2.3 million people are using buses and that number makes up 85 percent of daily commuters,” said Dr Maung Aung, Secretary of Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA).

The YRTA was formed by the current government to oversee public transportation in the region. As part of this effort, the YRTA overhauled the bus service, which had previously been run by the Yangon Region Central Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles (MaHtaTha ), by forming the Yangon Bus Service (YBS).

“Under YBS, service in terms of security, comfort, transparency and convenience has improved. The bus lines used to be privately owned, so operators prioritised profit over passengers. YBS changes the model to prioritse convenience for commuters,” said Dr Maung Aung.

Beyond just the bus service, the YRTA is looking at ways to reduce Yangon’s traffic congestion.

“We want to improve taxi and bus services for everyone and promote public transportation. If public transportation improves, private car utilisation will drop, helping to reduce congestion on the roads,” said Dr Maung Aung.

There are over 50,000 taxis on Yangon’s roads and this adds to the city’s traffic.

The government is looking into regulations to bring more order to the sector.

The rise of ride-hailing

“Since launching in Myanmar in 2017, ride-hailing company Grab has introduced both challenges and opportunities in providing mobility to the public. Our engagement has seen us become the largest ride-hailing app operating in Myanmar.

“By working with the local authorities, Impact Hub and Yangon Heritage Trust, we hope to play a role in helping define how Yangon continues to be a dynamic city responsive to the changing mobility needs of the millions that call it home,”

said Mr Alvin Loh, head of Grab Myanmar and Cambodia, adding that Grab intends to expand the GrabShuttle mini bus service for university students and office workers soon.

YRTA also has plans to run a circular bus route around the city that starts from the Aung Mingalar Highway bus station to the downtown area with the fare fixed at K1000 for the entire route and K500 for half the route. The service, to be run by a private company, is expected to start this month.

Another of the YRTA’s missions is to arrange buses for the disabled. Power Eleven Bus Line Co, which is popular and has a good reputation among commuters, has already submitted a plan to the YRTA to run the buses for the disabled very soon.

To help further reduce Yangon’s traffic congestion, the Yangon Region government allowed the operation of water buses run by Tint Tint Myanamr Co in 2017.

“The water buses are running well, but things can be improved and this is where the government can help,” said Daw Tint Tint Lwin, CEO of Tint Tint Myanmar.

During the panel session, the speakers discussed the development of a sustainable Urban Mobility Plan to integrate all modes and forms of transport in Yangon and surrounding areas.

Considering the needs of the disabled

And also discussed was how mobility in Yangon can be made more inclusive through new initiatives driven by cross- sector collaboration, international practices and trends in technology such as electric vehicles, intelligent traffic systems and intermodal booking platforms.

‘’This is the first event held to discuss urban mobility in Yangon and we believe this will provide the momentum for future improvements in the way people move in Yangon.

“Success will depend on close collaboration among all partners to tap technology expertise and solutions to solve actual problems,” said Klaus Oberbauer, Co-Founder of Impact Hub Yangon.

The Myanmar Traffic Police Force recently announced that there were 17,451 traffic accidents nationwide in 2018, resulting in 5184 deaths and 26741 injuries. Yangon reported the most casualties with 599 deaths and 3164 injuries from 2684 accidents.

“If our public transportation service improves, we can save time and lives,” said Dr Maung Aung.

The forum was hosted by Impact Hub Yangon, in partnership with Yangon Heritage Trust, Eden Center for Disabled Children, Grab and other civil society organisations and partners.

SOURCE: MYANMAR TIMES

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