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Public Bus System Works, But Needs Improvement, Riders Say

A young girl waiting at the bus stop along Monivong blvd., on August 11, 2015. (Photo: Ros Puthineat/VOA Khmer)

A young girl waiting at the bus stop along Monivong blvd., on August 11, 2015. (Photo: Ros Puthineat/VOA Khmer)

For many residents of Phnom Penh, a public bus system makes sense. The traffic in the capital is crowded with cars, SUVs and motor scooters, making public transportation a good, affordable option. Right now, a bus system that started in 2014 is working, but many who use the bus find themselves waiting for long periods of time for their ride to arrive.

The bus stops can be crowded and, rather than arriving at their stops every fifteen minutes, buses on the city’s three lines can take up to half an hour to show up. City officials say they are still ironing out the kinks in a system meant to lessen congestion on the streets of the capital—but buses have to fight through the very traffic they are meant to cut down on.

For riders like Farida, 13, who takes the bus to school each day, the bus is generally late in the morning. “Mostly, the bus comes regularly in the afternoon,” she said. The service is free for her, saving her a lot of money. When it works, she only waits 10 to 15 minutes at the stop. But the bus stops need more seating, she said, “so that we can sit while waiting.”

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the bus service does need work. “Everything isn’t perfect yet, and we need to improve the service,” he said. For one, there aren’t that many buses, he said. But that’s because people are not that familiar in Cambodia with public transportation. “Moreover, it is because of traffic congestion.”

Still, the city is working to improve the system and slowly resolve its problems, he said. The three bus lines were launched in late 2014, and they run from 5:30 am to 8:30 pm, daily. Tickets cost 1,500 riel each, about $0.30, which is affordable for many. Students and the elderly ride free.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 people take the bus each day, which reduces a lot of traffic, Long Dimanche said. The city plans to launch more bus lines in the future. “These problems will be solved soon,” he said.