‘Master Plan’ Drawn for Phnom Penh Public Transport System

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) met with Phnom Penh municipal authorities last month to present the first stage of a “master plan” for the construction of a much-needed public transport system for the capital.

Masato Koto, chief of mission for JICA’s transportation planning group in Phnom Penh, said he met with municipal governor Pa Socheat Vong on June 21 to present the results of a preliminary study, conducted over the past year, for a new transportation network.

“We are going to propose not only public transport but also road and traffic management including traffic-demand management and commodity flow,” Mr. Koto said Sunday.

According to Mr. Koto, the plan is also designed to educate people in the city on the benefits of using public transportation.

For years, JICA, the international development arm of the Japanese Government, has been leading efforts to interconnect Phnom Penh with a mass transit system, though successive plans have proved short-lived—such as the ill-fated bus service that lasted for only a few weeks in 2001, when JICA brought in retired buses from Osaka but failed to persuade the public to use them.

But with the growing number of unwieldy SUVs clogging up the city’s narrow roads, and with traffic being pushed into bottle-necks on main routes, it seems that concrete solutions are again back on the agenda.

Even an improbable-sounding sky train is back on the drawing board.

“Plans include bus, sky train, bicycles and walking because the problem of congestion will grow as the population increases up to 2.9 million people by 2035,” said Mr. Koto.

“This is the first phase of the study that JICA has now reported to us, the complete transportation study will be finished at the end of 2014,” deputy municipal governor Chreang Sophan said Sunday.

JICA’s study seeks to find the best long-term solutions for reducing traffic jams and accidents in the gridlocked capital, and once the study is finished, the municipal government will then implement the project with funds from the municipal budget, or if it cannot afford it, seek development partners, Mr. Sophan said.

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