September 23, 2017

Buses, buses everywhere — is it too many?

YBS buses park at People’s Park & Public Square in Yangon.  Photo: GNLM/Phoe Khwar

“YBS system has been introduced. Traffic Control system has also been introduced. The question then arises! Can these actions ease traffic jams in Yangon? No. Especially in a country which tries to be developed. The problem of traffic jam has to be tackled through good management. It may be crowded on bus during the rush hours. A “Change” is to be made with cooperation of all the citizens. We have witnessed people’s cooperation in changing into YBS system.” reviewed U Phyo Min Thein, Yangon Region Chief Minister, on Yangon commuter system.
The chief minister is absolutely right. The problem of traffic jam is to be tackled by means of management. Metropolitan experts viewed that traffic jams and poor transport decrease the work performance of individuals. To be able to avoid this situation, multi-actions have been taken to solve the problem and to create better transportation, U Phyo Min Thein said at the handing over ceremony of YBS buses on 10 June.
Yangon is economic hub of the country with millions residing in it, and it will become Mega City with the population of 10 million. As various opportunities are available in the city, there has been a great migration yearly. Therefore, it is unlikely that the decrease of population and automobiles is in sight. But, good transportation system and traffic rules are to be managed by the authorities or the government. To overcome certain problems such as traffic jams or urban population boom, Master Plan for a metropolitan is of utmost importance. In the plan, Traffic Demand Management (TDM) plays an important part, said Myanmar Engineering Society Chairman U Aung Myint.
The system of TDM was introduced quite recently and Control Centre will be in service this year to cover all the areas in the city. According to Yangon Region Transportation Minister Daw Nilar Kyaw, a total of 530,000 vehicles are using roads in Yangon. This means that of over 900,000 vehicles registered in the whole country, over half of the number is in Yangon. The number of vehicles in Yangon is doubled the amount of 2012 but it is a small number compared to the amount in the cities of neighbouring countries. Bangkok and Singapore are home to millions of vehicles but their commuter system is managed properly. Road areas and roads are also upgraded. Overpasses are common there and indiscriminate parking is intolerance. Every building has parking lots.
In Yangon, the widest road is 72 feet and some 48 or 44 feet wide. If there are vendors or indiscriminate parking on such a road, it is sure that there will be unwanted traffic jams. The road for the population of just 500,000 or just five digits of vehicles, built in the past was not too narrow for today’s six digits. But the problem is that lack of discipline, indiscriminate parking, unruly vendors, weakness in management of signal light system and traffic control system cannot be tackled properly, experts said. If there is a good management, vehicles can run on the road smoothly although there may be some jams. Unsystematic extending of urban areas without long term plan in the past, constructing a building without sufficient parking lot and having no chance to use the whole area of the main roads are causes of today’s dilemma.
“It is aimed at YBS system to be changed in a year. The level of YBS shall be changed to reach a stage in which even a wealthy man will be happy to take ride in it. When Urban Public transport can provide satisfactory service, nobody will bother to buy a car. We go to this direction. In the city buses have the share of just 30 % of the road. The remaining 70 % is occupied by private-owned cars. If the public transportation system has its place, the privates will change their minds. This is the target.” said U Phyo Min Thein.
So, it is very important to meet success in YBS system because the more people use the system the less rely on private cars. But it does not mean decreasing in the number of vehicles can ease traffic jams because Yangon is an economic hub, he noted. He also said that his plan is not to make Yangon to become a ghost town but to become a modern city buzzing with people.
“This is the real situation of change. We should not be disappointed with the results. We need to do our best to achieve something. Normally, people are afraid of leaving their comfort zone. We, on our part, are very tired to make a change. But we have vowed to do good for the people to the best of our ability. With good management practices we will go on.” said the chief minister.
Of the 500,000 vehicles in Yangon, the numbers of buses are less than 10,000 including newly imported buses. The amount of Yangonites who use circular trains is just nearly 100,000. There will be safe and sound transport system only when good commuting system is available. Therefore, good management is a must.

(Translated by Wallace)

Su Hnin Lei (The Mirror)

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