Days numbered for BM buses
YANGON’S rickety and ageing fleet of locally made and privately operated buses are gradually getting phased out amid tighter regulations, after years of accidents and customer complaints.
The so-called “BM buses” are soon to come under the auspices of the Road Transport Administration Department (RTAD), Yangon Region Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles chair U Hla Aung told The Myanmar Times.
Electricity, Industry and Transportation Minister Daw Ni Lar Kyaw has issued a directive for BM buses to be entrusted to RTAD and decommissioned, U Hla Aung said.
“The minister met with the committee members of respective district BM bus lines and told to us at the end of October and she wants the documents [for each bus] by November 6,” he said.
“We collected some of the documents, but some are still left because we are still explaining to bus owners,” said U Hla Aung.
After handing over the vehicles to RTAD, bus owners can import city buses to run with CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), or cars for personal use. The buses can also be on-sold to other parts of the country.
‘“Wemetwithbusownerstodiscuss how we can develop or change the bus [industry]. In East, West, North and South district, there are over 400 BM buses running,” U Hla Aung said.
Under Yangon’s public transport system, most Ministry of Transport buses are privately owned. Many BM buses are beyond reach at present, and they have a bad track record when it comes to road safety and vehicle maintenance. BM buses have been running the streets of Yangon, from downtown bus stops to North Dagon and North Okkalapa townships, for more than 40 years.
Careless driving of BM buses has caused many accidents around Yangon. Last month, a 68-year-old woman was killed in a BM-related hit and run. Transport Minister Daw Ni lar Kyaw says the government has a plan to tackle this issue.
“In the past, the government used to take action only against the offending driver. They also took action by limiting the running time, as well as limited issuing of CNG licenses,” she said.
The new government’s plan involves taking action against bus owners and operators – something U Hla Aung says should include all buses operating on Yangon’s roads, not just the BMs. Many nighttime commuters rely on BM bus lines, as these often operate well into the night.
Last year, the regional government set up a public-private sector joint venture, supporting a new system, BRT Lite, as an alternative to the BM buses. But BRT Lite operates on only three routes and thus far has brought limited order to the madness of Yangon’s bus system, in which privately owned bus lines compete on the same routes for the same passengers.
“If the BM buses are not running, we need to reconsider [how we can provide for the] commuter’s transportation needs,” said U Hla Aung.
Passengers wait at a bus stop in downtown Yangon.