Days num­bered for BM buses

The Myanmar Times - - News - Ayenyein­win@mm­times.com AYE NYEIN WIN

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.

Photo: Staff

Pas­sen­gers wait at a bus stop in down­town Yangon.

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