After announcing plans to conduct a feasibility report of a public transportation system in Phnom Penh, the French Embassy said yesterday that no specific mode of transport—bus, tram or rail—has been decided on.
“The study has not started yet, so the nature of the public transport could not be precise,” Laurence Bernardi, first secretary at the French Embassy in Phnom Penh, said by e-mail. “And it is the Municipality of Phnom Penh which will choose the nature of transport after having received [the] study’s results.”
The comments come after the embassy announced Monday that municipal governor Kep Chuktema and French engineering consultant Systra exchanged a draft-agreement detailing the first phase of the $500,000 study.
City Hall hinted last month that it was leaning toward the integration of a bus system when it invited companies to draw up investment plans, claiming two companies had already submitted proposals.
Mr Chuktema said at the time that a bus system would help alleviate traffic jams caused by the increasing amount of motorbikes and create a “cheap” alternative to driving, adding that the buses would run along seven routes to and from the outskirts of the city.
Experts say that an integrated tram system, on the other hand, may not be as beneficial.
“I don’t believe in these so much. They work in places like Paris, which attracts tourists going to a lot of commercial areas, but it’s not for all,” said Bunseang Chea, a member of the Cambodian Society of Architects.
“I could see only between Central Market [Phsar Thmei], or near the Royal Palace, but for other areas, I don’t think so. But let’s see what they design first.”
The Japan International Cooperation Agency outlined a public transportation study in 2001, while a 2008 study conducted by another Japanese organization detailed the establishment of a sky rail from the city center to the Phnom Penh International Airport. Neither got off the ground.
(Additional reporting by Chhorn Chansy)