Overcharging on buses number one complaint among commuters
FARE-GOUGING is still top of the list of commuter complaints against Yangon’s privately owned buses, transport regulators say, despite their attempts to fine and discipline bus staff.
Other complaints include rudeness and, in at least one case, demanding money with menaces.
Yangon Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles chair U Hla Aung said 68 percent of the grievances reported by passengers were about having to pay more than the scheduled fare – sometimes three to five times as much. Most of the illegal demands made by bus conductors occur after 5pm, when bus supervisors go home for the evening.
“The problem continues despite the action we’re taking. We investigate every complaint and fine the staff concerned, or impose a limitation on their working days,” said U Hla Aung.
Between January and September, the committee received 1716 complaints of fare-gouging, of which it has resolved 877, he added.
“We know this goes on at night, but we don’t have enough supervisors to cover that period,” which extends until buses shut down for the night at about 11pm, he said.
Some commuters are loath to complain, even when treated rudely.
“Last week, I took the 57 bus [from Thaketa to Lanmadaw townships] at 7pm. Normally the trip costs K100 for five stops. The conductor demanded K200 because it was night-time. I tried to get off, but the conductor refused to let me until I’d given him an extra K100. He looked like a gangster,” said Ko Aung Ko from Thaketa township.
“I looked up the phone number of the committee, but I didn’t complain,” he added, saying he thought nothing would come of it.
Buses on the North Dagon-Sule Pagoda route often demand K300-K500 at night.
North Dagon resident U Than Toe said, “Usually I go home about 8pm, and they charge me K300, sometimes K500. I pay, but they treat commuters very badly. I won’t complain to the committee, but if a conductor speaks to me rudely, I’ll hit him.”
A new agency, the Yangon Region Transport Authority Group, has been formed to administer the bus system, but at this point the Supervisory Committee is still responsible pending a change in the law. “To supervise about 4000 buses systematically will require many improvements. But we would like to reassure passengers that if they complain, we will take action,” he added.
YRTAG secretary U Maung Aung said, “We’re also receiving complaints. We would ask passengers to be patient and cooperate with us. Once the PPP has been formed, we will deal with the companies responsible for the buses,” he added, referring to the proposed public-private partnership that will assume responsibility for the bus service.