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Will mass-transit deprived Phnom Penh offer bus service?

Phnom Penh (Still Epsilon/ flickr/ cc)

For most cities, introducing a bus system wouldn’t be a major milestone. For Phnom Penh, one of the few major metropolises without a mass transit system, it’s a big deal. Daniel Otis reports in Next City that Cambodia’s capital teamed with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to offer experimental bus service for a month.

The route along a commercial corridor was deemed a success after it ended in early March. More than 42,000 passengers (1,500 a day) used the fleet of ten minibuses. Despite rave reviews, Otis notes that a bus network may be a hard sell. A similar trial in 2001 failed to result in regular bus service.

The city’s lack of mass transit has helped tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis flourish. There’s no denying the charm and personalized attention that comes with those options. But they also leave riders exposed to the heat and monsoons and offer no protection on increasingly congested roads.

Experts says buses alone are not enough to solve Phnom Penh’s traffic problems. An urban transport master plan calls for the city to commence rail service in 2020.

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