Sixty buses began taking travellers home with free services yesterday while taxis still increased their fares despite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s appeal for them not to do so over Khmer New Year.
Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng yesterday visited the parking lots where waiting buses took travellers back to their home towns for free as part of a government initiative to aid poor workers visit their home provinces for Khmer New Year.
“For the road to Banteay Meanchey province, a lot of people take the bus and the road to Kandal, not many people take it because they will go on Friday,” he said. “We hope the people will love it.”
The buses began taking the travellers through five routes, including National Road 1 from Phnom Penh to Kandal, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng province; and National Road 3 from Phnom Penh to Kandal, Kampong Speu, Takeo and Kampot provinces.
The other routes include National Road 4, National Road 5 and National Road 6.
Hem Samnang, 35, said that he appreciated the free bus when he and his daughters yesterday travelled to Kampong Speu province.
“We support this service. We hope that the government will have a free bus service every year. It has air-con and we feel comfortable and we do not worry about the fare,” Mr Samnang said.
Ol Than, a Phnom Penh resident who opted for a taxi, said that the ticket cost him $10 rather than the usual $7.50.
“The fare of some taxi-vans has increased from 5,000 riel or 10,000 riel for one ticket. I do not agree with this fare,” Mr Than said.
Mr Hun Sen announced that the government will consider providing 200 free buses during Khmer New Year next year, should bus companies and taxis continue to increase fares during the holiday. The initiative is also aimed at forcing the companies to stop raising their fares.
Mean Chanyada, deputy governor of Phnom Penh, said that City Hall had a meeting with the companies, asking them not to increase fares but the advice was not heeded.
“We suggested that they not increase the ticket price and join the government to keep the fare normal to help people get to their villages,” he said.