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Join YBS or sell us your buses, says Rangoon chief minister

The opening day of YBS in Rangoon, 16 January 2017 (PHOTO: DVB)

The chief minister of Rangoon division, Phyo Min Thein, said the regional government is making arrangements to buy buses from private operators who do not wish to be part of the new Yangon Bus Service (YBS).

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Phyo Min Thein said that several private bus operators who previously operated under the government’s Central Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles and Vessels (commonly known by its Burmese acronym ma-hta-tha), expressed no wish to be part of the YBS, and so now the government is offering to buy their buses.

“The private owners should decide whether to leave their buses with us in exchange for money or become YBS shareholders – I don’t see any other options,” said the chief minister.

Only two days into the new public service, Phyo Min Thein said his regional administration will be looking into reports that some YBS bus drivers and conductors are overcharging commuters.

The fixed rate on a YBS bus is 100 kyat (7 cents US) within the city limits, and 200 kyat when travelling to Rangoon’s outskirts. But passengers have complained that certain buses were charging up to 600 kyat as the fare to outlying areas.

There are currently 68 bus routes with more than 3,000 vehicles registered to operate under the new YBS scheme, which replaces the ma-hta-hta service. Local authorities say the bus operators have signed share-profit agreements with the YBS for this transitional period, with a view to ultimately elevating the business to a public company.

Khun Maung, a commuter from Rangoon’s Tamwe Township, complained that the new bus system was time-consuming and more expensive because passengers now had to pay for additional stops when they change buses.

“Previously, I could take a bus directly to my work at Pansodan in the city centre,” he told DVB. “But now I have to get off at Sanpya Market and then pay for a second bus. Also, the new [YBS] bus has no air-conditioning. I felt like I was going to suffocate. In fact, I decided to get off half-way.”

Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein said that officials were made aware of some egregious incidents, and that the government is working to bring in more vehicles by the end of February.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar Railway Department has announced that it is expanding routes on the Rangoon circular rail line.

Myanmar Railway official Zaw Lwin said that two new routes had opened between downtown Rangoon and outlying Insein and Mingalardon townships. Both services, he said, would operate every morning and afternoon during office hours.

He said his department is also working to extend the circular train route between Rangoon and Taikkyi Township all the way to Okekan Township, which borders Pegu Division.