Transit Test To Restrict Monivong Traffic in June

Two- and three-wheeled traffic will be banned from one of Phnom Penh’s busiest streets for the month of June, as part of a pu­blic transit experiment.

Bicycles, cyclos and motorcycles, both motorbike taxis and private motorbikes, will not be allowed on a section of Monivong Boulevard, officials said.

Japanese aid officials and Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara signed the papers Tues­day authorizing the experiment, to be paid for by the Japan Inter­national Cooperation Agency.

“This is very much appreciated,” Chea Sophara said of the project, which will send 22 air-conditioned buses over two routes from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm daily.

Transit experts say Phnom Penh’s chaotic traffic, with vehicles of various kinds whizzing in all directions, sharply slows move­ment within the city.

Two bus routes are planned: the Blue Line, which will run from Chbar Ampao market to a stop just east of the Japanese Bridge; and the Green Line, a clock­wise downtown loop on No­r­o­dom, Sihanouk, Nehru and Kampuchea Krom boulevards.

Cycle traffic will be banned on one segment of the Blue Line—Monivong between Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle—while the buses are running.

They want to see whether the buses will run more efficiently on the cycle-free stretch. Officials estimate that the 9 km Blue Line route will take between 40 to 50 minutes, while the 7 km Green Line loop will take 30 to 40 minutes.

Fares will start at 500 riel to encourage ridership but will rise to 800 riel after a few days.

JICA officials would not say how much the project will cost, saying they are still negotiating with the Ho Wah Genting Trans­port Co Ltd for bus leases. If the experiment is a success, they said, a private company may continue the bus service.

The officials said the buses will run every 5 or 10 minutes, seat 29 passengers with no more than 6 standees, and that the 56 bus stops would be between 300 and 500 meters apart. There are no plans to rent additional buses during the experiment.

Several roads running parallel to Monivong have been resurfaced to handle the expected increase in two-wheel traffic, including streets 107, 182, 105, 63, and 51, JICA’s Koto Masato said.

Chea Sophara said an existing ban on two-wheel traffic on Noro­dom will be enforced.

The governor also said he does not expect motorbike taxi drivers to protest against the experimental introduction of buses. “I think they will enjoy driving on these safer roads,” he said.

Moto driver Tith Sokhom, 40, said he’s glad smaller streets are being upgraded, but questions whether June rains will flood them.

“The buses will be good for people who have the time, but people in a hurry will prefer motos,” he said.

Cyclo driver Moek Buot, 37, said, “If they think this plan is good for the people, I’ll do it,” while Long Vasna, 56, said cyclos have been banned in the past and will survive another ban.



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