Bus Systems in South East Asia and Korea - an overview

Bus Systems in South East Asia and Korea - an overview

Reform of Bus Systems

At the starting stage of public transport development in a city like Phnom Penh, an improvement strategy for ordinary buses is most essential. Phnom Penh definitely requires development of a reliable and efficient bus system. As a matter of fact, most ASEAN megacities need to improve their bus systems. Hanoi also needs to create a reliable bus system for the development of a public transit system with the construction of urban railways or BRT. Brunei also has a lot of room for improvement of its bus system for citizens and foreign workers. Bangkok and Manila also need to improve their bus systems so that they can have harmony in their public transit systems. The bus systems should become a healthy base for the whole urban transport system.

Phnom Penh has had a very weak history of public transport development since it suffered a lot from political oppression, such as the Khmer Rouge, an extreme leftist experiment in Cambodia during the 1970s. The Khmer Rouge regime totally destroyed the capital city and made it a ghost city until it fell in 1979. Due to this negative experience in government, the Cambodian people seem not to believe in public transport, but rather trust private modes, such as motorcycles and private cars. The city has just started operation of 10 medium-sized buses in February, 2014. Without them, the capital city would not have any public transport system for about one million citizens. Citizens mainly depend on walking, motorcycles and tuk-tuks for their mobility needs. The city government has been running buses since April, 2014 after a Chinese firm, Global (Cambodia) Trade Development, which was given the operating contract for the bus line, pulled out after being refused tax breaks for its metered taxi business. The fares will range from 1,500 to 1,600 riel (about US$0.37 to US$0.40) for retail tickets, and the elderly will be given 50% discounts on ticket prices. Recently, the number of private cars has been increasing and traffic congestion has worsened on several main trunk roads in the city. About 300,000 cars and one million motorbikes now accelerate traffic jams in the city’s streets. The Phnom Penh city government is trying to improve public transport by providing more bus services. This year, the city government will run 40 more buses on two new bus lines. In that case, the total number of buses will be 50, and the total bus lines will be three by the end of 2014. Without a private company partner, the government plans on creating an autonomous transport authority that will run the current bus line and the two others being planned.

In the case of Bangkok, it does not have a hierarchical harmony in its public transport system since it mixes old and modern transport modes. Motorcycles and tuk-tuks are widely used, and buses provide low-level service, while the Skytrain and subway systems provide high-quality public transport services for citizens. Bangkok also operates a high-level BRT line as an experimental project. Bangkok has implemented a car-oriented and road-based transport policy because the city has many elevated roads and pedestrian overpasses on streets. Pedestrians are not properly protected from automobiles, and pedestrian rights have not been secured at crosswalks and pedestrian roads. In addition, bus stations are not adequately furnished. The Thailand and Bangkok city government seems to have a keen interest in reforming bus systems with the expansion of urban railway systems. In the case of Hanoi, recent improvements to the quality and capacity of the bus system have been a major success, but the efficiency of operation is not sufficient because the improvement of services and introduction of new services are more and more inhibited by illegal parking, traffic congestion and operating conditions. The Hanoi authorities are seeking to improve bus operations through bus priority to improve operational efficiency, ensure the effective use of the fleet and provide better service as an attractive alternative to private transport.

Bus Reform

To reform the bus system, ASEAN megacities need to improve bus operations, facilities, vehicles, and culture. Bus stations and lanes should be repaired and substituted with exclusive lanes for a better environment for bus users. Old vehicles also need to replace with high-quality buses such as double decker buses, electricity buses, and online electricity vehicles (OLEVs). The government should manage private bus companies with performance and service evaluation systems, and ASEAN megacities generally need to use private bus companies to provide bus services. Accordingly, ASEAN megacities should have a high level of monitoring and enforcement systems for bus operation companies. In addition, a standard cost system needs to be built for the efficiency of bus companies. Finally, ASEAN megacities need to create a sustainable business model for private bus operations. The model should utilize the profit maximization motive of ....

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