Asia

In pictures: A day riding on Yangon's new bus system

Image copyright Hong Sar

This week, a new bus system was introduced in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, replacing the old military-run network that commuters have long complained about.

Some two million people out of a population of seven million use the city buses every day, but the vehicles are overcrowded and road accidents are common.

The new government has promised the changed system will eventually give Yangon a modern transport network similar to other Asian cities.

In the short term, however, it may have made things worse as confusion reigns and overcrowding continues.

Image copyright Hong Sar

The new system was introduced on 15 January and cuts the bus lines from about 300 to 61. Volunteers and police are out trying to help people with the new schedules.

But the reduced lines means the buses have been even more crowded this week than usual.

Image copyright Hong Sar

Phyu Phyu Zin, 36, (pictured below) takes the bus to her job as a press and communications officer at the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business.

She says that, before, she had to take two buses to get to her work; now, three. It also takes her two hours to get there - longer than it used to.

Image copyright Hong Sar

But she thinks eventually the system will work better.

"The bus is still overloaded, but I really like the system. Why can't we get bus standards like other countries? I really agree with the government system now, if they got more buses it will be comfortable, the system will be good in the future."

Image copyright Hong Sar

The government has promised that new buses will arrive soon, but the full transport plan will only be in place in 2020.

Image copyright Hong Sar
Image copyright Hong Sar

But not everyone is convinced.

Kyaw Kyaw, 21, (pictured below) is an electric engineer and he says his commute has definitely become more difficult.

"I go to work everyday with the city bus, but I like the old system, because now it is very difficult. I have to change three buses to get to my work, so it will be six buses a day and I pay 1200 Kyat ($0.80, £0.70) every day."

Image copyright Hong Sar

Although it's currently a cash system for payment on board the buses, the government has said it will eventually move towards electronic payments.

Image copyright Hong Sar

Another change in the system bans commission-based payments for drivers.

Drivers used to be paid according to the number of people on the bus, which gave them the incentive to pack as many people as possible.

Some bus drivers have not been showing up to work to boycott the new system, but U Hla Win, 57, (pictured below) is not one them.

He has been a bus driver for 30 years and says the new system is promising.

Image copyright Hong Sar

"I believe it is the first step of change," he says.

"It's important that people follow discipline, and also the government takes action if someone is breaking the rules."

Image copyright Hong Sar

For now the number of the buses is not enough for the number of passengers. But the police, private companies, taxis and student volunteers have all been enlisted to help in the transition.

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