Pri­vate bus com­pany goes con­duc­tor-free

The Myanmar Times - - Business - AYE NYEIN WIN ayenyein­win@mm­times.com

IN what could be the end of the line for Yan­gon’s no­to­ri­ous bus con­duc­tors, one bus line owner is in­tro­duc­ing a sys­tem of ask­ing pas­sen­gers to pay fares into a col­lec­tion box. Ko Ta Yoke Lay, who runs the No 45 line, says the in­tro­duc­tion of the sys­tem will re­move the need for bus con­duc­tors.

In ad­di­tion to their fare col­lec­tion du­ties, Yan­gon’s bus con­duc­tors of­ten add the fol­low­ing ser­vices: de­lay­ing the bus while they ha­rangue passers-by, tout­ing their des­ti­na­tions; over­charg­ing in wet weather or late at night, or on a whim; and egging their driv­ers on to jockey with ri­val car­ri­ers, to the alarm of others on the roads.

“I’ve al­ready in­tro­duced a sys­tem by which the pas­sen­gers no longer hand money over to a con­duc­tor, but just drop the fare into the bas­ket them­selves,” said Ko Ta Yoke Lay. He said the sys­tem was now in use on seven new buses, and would be in­stalled on all his com­pany’s new buses.

He said he might re­tain some con­duc­tors for non-fare-re­lated ser­vices.

“Thanks to pas­sen­ger co­op­er­a­tion, the new sys­tem is work­ing. Prof­its are the same as be­fore. The pas­sen­gers like the sys­tem, and are al­ready pre­pared to use pre­paid cards,” he said. Pas­sen­gers who need change sim­ply take it from the bas­ket.

The Yan­gon Re­gional gov­ern­ment last month an­nounced plans to over­haul Yan­gon’s chaotic bus sys­tem – where more than 350 pri­vately owned lines com­pete for pas­sen­gers – by al­low­ing com­pa­nies to form pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships, and phas­ing out the use of old buses in the city cen­tre.

Ko Ta Yoke Lay said, “We’re ap­ply­ing to form a PPP com­pany and will present pro­pos­als to the re­gional gov­ern­ment. We’ve been work­ing to­ward this since 2013. Our 2006-model buses are com­pli­ant with the Bus Rapid Trans­port sys­tem and we’re invit­ing other bus line own­ers and the pub­lic to buy shares.”

The city’s first PPP last year started to op­er­ate a ser­vice called BRT Lite, which runs along two routes. The new lines are ex­pected to op­er­ate on sim­i­lar terms. Ko Ta Yoke Lay wants to keep the In­sein to Sule Pagoda route, which he al­ready plies with his 21 buses.

“The for­mer gov­ern­ment said it would bring in a PPP sys­tem, but didn’t of­fer to sup­port the bus com­pa­nies. The present gov­ern­ment says it will sup­port us against lost prof­its. This ap­proach in­spires more con­fi­dence,” he said, re­fer­ring to a prom­ise to al­low new PPPs to open petrol sta­tions to help them stay prof­itable. Ko Ta Yoke Lay has been lead­ing the way among bus op­er­a­tors – he was the first owner to hire fe­male con­duc­tors, in the hope that they would be more po­lite to the cus­tomers.

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the in­tro­duc­tion of pre­paid cards, he has started to train them as driv­ers, so that they can one day drive the PPP buses.

“Some of them have al­ready got their li­cences,” he said.

Photo: Staff

A mo­tor­cy­cle drives past the Cen­tral Bank of Myanmar in Nay Pyi Taw.

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