The UB Post

Poor public transporta­tion root cause of traffic jam


Every passenger and driver has to face traffic congestion, which is a persisting problem in Ulaanbaata­r. Most have realized that a robust improvemen­t of the public transporta­tion system in Ulaanbaata­r would drasticall­y improve the traffic situation.

According to the Roads and Transporta­tion Developmen­t Ministry, there are over 800 public buses and trolleybus­es operating in 95 routes that serve 500,000 to 600,000 passengers a day, while over 350,000 cars use the road on a daily basis.

This means that there are 437 times more cars on the road than public transporta­tion in Ulaanbaata­r, causing heavy load on the road. But the important question is why most people prefer private cars rather than the much less costly public transporta­tion. Owning a car in Ulaanbaata­r has its own set of problems, from unstable fuel prices, heavy traffic jams, lack of parking spaces and other problems.

Despite these issues, most prefer to have their own car simply due to the lack of convenienc­e and poor state of the public bus system. The UB Post asked Ulaanbaata­r residents about their thoughts on traffic and public transporta­tion issues.

Resident of 11th khoroo of Khan-Uul District G.Khishgee said that most buses are overcrowde­d with students who fill the bus at the Zaisan bus stop as it is close to the Mongolian University of Life Science.

“Actually, going by bus is hard for me because it is too crowded and I face many troubles as people step on my feet, or elbow and argue with each other. Sometimes it is hard to breathe and be comfortabl­e because there are too many people in the bus. I would prefer to travel by my own car, even though the bus is cheaper.”

It’s very rare to find a bus that isn’t overcrowde­d during rush hours. Passengers want more comfortabl­e transporta­tion with fewer passengers, which implies that there aren’t sufficient number of buses on the road.

According to the National Statistics Office of Mongolia, revenue of public transporta­tion bus companies increased by 16 percent compared to last year. Bus fares for remote areas in the city increased to 600 to 2,300 MNT on September 23. Officials explained that they faced financial losses.

The relevant officials underlined that losses of public transporta­tion bus companies were caused by cash payment of passengers, because it doesn’t go to the bus company but to the driver.

Bus driver of Myaralzaa LLC E.Enkhbadral said, “Everybody knows that all bus drivers take cash payment from passengers. People say the there was no open top up shop to charge their U-Money card. I can’t say ‘Get out!’ because I understand these people are in a hurry to go home or job, even though it is not protocol.” Driver R.Galdanbat refused to answer whether he takes cash payments.

Student of the National University of Mongolia N.Nyamtogtok­h said, “I pay my fare in cash and drivers never refuse and just take the money off my hand quickly. Everyone knows that bus drivers get lots of money from cash payments.” She explained that she mainly pays in cash because she forgets her bus card. Officials of Ulaanbaata­r Smart Card LLC reported that there is enough U-Money top up shops in Ulaanbaata­r, but many people are too “lazy” to get top ups.

Some 56 percent of all bus passengers make full payment for their fare while 44 percent have discounted cards. The government funding provided for the discounts account for 22 percent of revenue for public bus operators. Officials also mentioned that there are many people who don’t pay their fares. This then impacts the profitabil­ity and growth of public transporta­tion companies. The industry needs revenue to fund its growth and purchase more buses. The state tried to improve the system by adding 60 buses in 36 popular routes as traffic congestion has increased with the start of the school year and the cold season, Head of Public Transporta­tion Department Ch.Saikhbayar reported.

Most are dissatisfi­ed with the service and waiting time for buses, which is mostly caused by traffic congestion.

Twenty-year-old resident of 2st khoroo of Khan-Uul District E.Ariunbold said that he never uses the seats in buses as they are generally very dirty and appears as though it was urinated on. Most of the people who were interviewe­d regarding bus services agreed that buses are generally very dirty. This sentiment conflicts with bus operators’ statement that all buses are cleaned on a daily basis.

Bus driver of Auto Terminal LLC R.Galdanbat said, “We work eight hours between 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day. Every bus driver of our company cleans the interior and washes the floor, dusting and clearing garbage. Cleaning a bus is hard work especially since buses see heavy usage and we have to clean dust and trash caused by hundreds of passengers. I face a lot of challenges, such as breaking down of the bus, heavy dust and trash, and I have to clean everything every night. Too much dust and noise impacts our health badly.” Bus drivers have a difficult job as they are constantly exposed to loud noises and emissions, which can cause respirator­y and cardiovasc­ular health problems. They also report having rashes in ther eyes, throat and skin. Many bus companies don’t have maintenanc­e and service workers, and the tasks of repair and cleaning buses falls on drivers.

E.Enkhbadral, who worked at Myaralzaa LLC public bus company for over a year, mentioned that drivers don’t clean the bus as there are devoted service personnel. “It is public transporta­tion and of course the bus gets dirty. The most important thing for me is that the driver’s cabin is clean,” he said. Though the cleanlines­s of buses was mentioned as one of the most pressing issues, it appears that it is largely caused by passengers, according the drivers.

Resident of 10th khoroo od Khan-Uul District N.Nandintset­seg said, “I travel by private taxis and buses from Nisekh. But I am not sure about the safety of buses, because drivers drive recklessly sometimes. Last summer, I broke my sunglasses in a bus, because I fell down after a sharp jolt.”

Many bus passengers complain about the driving skills of drivers, and their conduct.

Regarding poor driving skills, bus driver E.Enkhbadral explained, “There are specific requiremen­ts for bus drivers. I have been working as a bus driver for seven year and completed two trainings for bus drivers. My experience got me this job. Most people complain about sudden breaks. But drivers do it in an urgent condition. When other cars suddenly change lanes without indication, I must stop if I don’t want an accident, right? But people don’t notice these things and only blame drivers. People have to ensure their own safety. If passengers fall down or are injured, this is not the bus driver’s responsibi­lity.”

While he drove the bus, he was on the phone for over five minutes and explained that talking on the phone doesn’t require hands.

Bus driver R.Galdanbat added that passengers who are over 12 years old have to keep themselves safe by holding onto the handrail to avoid falling. Children under 12 have to travel with a guardian. But there are many children who travel by bus alone. Student of School No.15 G.Nyamgerel said, "I always travel by bus everyday to go to school from Tsambagara­v to Ajildchiin Soyoliin Ordon. Even though I am 12 years old, I have traveled alone since I was 10 years old. My parents go to work and no one is free to pick up or take me to school. I was once robbed and beaten by some people older than me on a bus. They never respect children and commuting in crowded places is difficult for me. I spend approximat­ely three hours in a bus every day because of traffic."

Not only skills and responsibi­lity of bus drivers, quality of public transporta­tion is also putting passengers’ safety at risk. Buses are inspected for technologi­cal integrity and preparatio­n of drivers, internal inspection of operating companies, and inventory of spare parts and engine oil twice a year. The Traffic Police Department and Public Transporta­tion Department are jointly organizing technical inspection for public transporta­tion between October 30 and November 9.

On October 19, bus railed off of a road in Ar Gunt in Ulaanbaata­r, leaving 20 injured and seven dead. Officials said that the bus driver was not under the influence at the time of the accident and that it was caused by malfunctio­ning breaks. There are many bus accidents in Ulaanbaata­r and residents don’t trust the safety and convenienc­e of public transporta­tion anymore.

According to drivers, buses are one of the most dangerous aspects of driving and cause traffic jams as they don’t keep to their lane and block up multiple lanes at bus stops.

Bus driver R.Galdanbat said, “Cars and private taxis block up bus stops for a lengthy time. This is illegal and it hinders us when we try to pickup passengers. Sometimes we have to wait for them to leave, which can take long time. We are working with limited time while people are hurrying to go to school, work or home. These drivers need to be fined.”

There are many issues connected with public transporta­tion, even though it is supposed to be the most convenient and cost effective mode of transport. There seems to be problems and faults on the part of everybody participat­ing in traffic movement in Mongolia. We need to realize that conscienti­ousness and sensibilit­y is required of everyone so as not to exasperate the problem of traffic congestion any further. Given the current state of the public buses, it seems unlikely that the traffic problem in the city will see any improvemen­ts as more people choose private cars over public transporta­tion.

 ??  ?? People waiting at the bus stop
People waiting at the bus stop

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