Phnom Penh Sky Train May Still Be Pipe Dream

Despite interest from the Bang­kok Mass Transit System (BTS) in building two electric sky train lines above Phnom Penh’s traffic-clogged thoroughfares, municipal officials expressed doubt Aug 19 that a feasible plan could be found any time soon.

Deputy Governor Pa Socheat­vong said that BTS representatives had met with municipal authorities over the last month about the sky train project, which is estimated to cost around $500 million, but that no official proposal has been put forth yet.

“Even if City Hall approves it, such a big project needs approval from the Council of Ministers,” he said, adding that he thinks such an ambitious project is still a ways off.

“It is still in the imagination,” he said.

Government-affiliated Agence Kampuchea Presse quoted BTS’ representative to Cambodia, May Vuthy, as saying that the plans included two electric sky train lines: one stretching 7 km from the Japa­nese Friendship Bridge to the Monivong Bridge, and another 8 km from Phsar Thmei to the heart of the garment sector in Meanchey district.

Building could begin in 2008 and last four years, with tickets to ride the sky train projected to cost $1, AKP reported Aug 16.

Though Phnom Penh has dabbled with public transport in the past, practical and efficient mass transit remains a pipe dream.

In 2001, Japan International Cooperation Agency funded an experiment consisting of 17 public buses along two routes in Phnom Penh, but the project lasted only two months and closed down after the government lost more than $20,000.

Deputy Governor Chreang Sophan said Aug 19 that were the sky train project to reach fruition, it would help cut down on air pollution and reduce traffic congestion in the rapidly growing capital.

Chaturont Chaiyakam, first secretary at the Thai Embassy, said he heard that BTS had proposed the sky train project to the Cambodian government and was awaiting a reply.

He added that BTS had not sought help from the Thai Em­bassy to facilitate the process, but that he thought the capital would benefit greatly from sky trains.

“Phnom Penh needs a mass transit system to cope with its expanding city,” he said, adding that Bangkok’s popular sky trains also offer tickets for approximately $1.

Chea Sun Hel, director of transmission and distribution at Elec­tricite du Cambodge, said that Cambodia is working with neighboring countries to expand its electricity resources, and that by 2010 it should be able to sustain such a project.


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