A Chinese company will donate 100 buses to assist in the planned expansion of Phnom Penh’s public bus service from three to 10 lines next year, officials said Wednesday.
According to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between City Hall and the local government of Zhengzhou, the capital of China’s Henan province, Chinese bus manufacturer Yutong will provide the buses, which the company values at $70,000 each.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Chreang Sophann said the agreement was just the first step in acquiring the buses.
“We will ask for approval from the government and continue by making a request through the Ministry of Finance to the Chinese Embassy,” he said.
Ean Sokhim, director of Phnom Penh’s Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority, said the donated vehicles would be crucial to expanding the municipality’s fledgling public bus service.
Mr. Sokhim said the city currently had 44 buses running along its three lines, and a total of 350 buses would be needed to expand to the planned 10 lines next year.
“First, [Yutong] will give us 100 buses for free as a pilot project…and if it is successful, we will order the rest,” he said, adding that the 100 donated buses could arrive in Phnom Penh within a month.
Although the new bus service was launched in March, the Chinese company contracted to operate the buses, Global (Cambodia) Trade Development, pulled out after failing to secure tax breaks it was seeking from City Hall, which is still looking for a private firm to take over operations.
Last month, Ou Kimsan, deputy chief of the municipal transport department’s transport office, said the bus line had so far led to losses of $25,000 for the municipality.
The first of the existing lines runs along Monivong Boulevard, with a stretch connecting Old Stadium and Kilometer No. 9 on National Road 5 in Russei Keo district.
The second line runs between the Night Market on Sisowath Quay and Takhmao City in Kandal province. The third line connects the Night Market with Choam Chao commune in Pur Senchey district.
Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly said that Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Chreang Sophann signed the MoU on behalf of City Hall.