YBS running at loss to facilitate daily commuters

YBS is providing transport service at a loss for residents in Yangon Region during the coronavirus crisis. “During the early outbreak of COVID-19, the business has not made any profit. If the YBS bus lines stopped running, the drivers would lose jobs, and it would undoubtedly incur the transport difficulties to the commuters. The YBS has run despite its losses. It covered only the cost of CNG then. However, the public transport is a must for residents in the difficult time of the COVID-19,” said Managing Director Ko Tayokelay of Power Eleven Company.
Before the coronavirus outbreak in Myanmar, the average number of passengers is at 550 on the daily run of a bus in February 2020. The number of commuters has started to drop since late March. The bus lines witnessed a slight increase in passengers in June and July. The number drastically fell in August-end. In early September, a bus daily runs with about 150 passengers.
As per the order 107/2020 issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports on 20 September, all the residents in the whole Yangon Region, excluding Cocogyun Township, are instructed to stay at home starting from 21 September, except those employees of financial, fuel, pharmaceuticals, food and drinking water businesses, meat and fish cold storage plants and personal goods factories.
The public transport sector is hit hard by the coronavirus impacts. The bus lines cannot cover the salaries of staff, vehicle maintenance cost, and daily labour wages of the drivers. Usually, a bus consumes about K30,000 worth CNG every day.
During the Stay-at-Home period, YBS are operating at 40 per cent of standard capacities. The bus lines also slashed its service to a large extent in the meantime. “I waited for about 45 minutes to 1 hour at a bus-stop to go to the city downtown area during that period. However, it takes only about 30 minutes to go there from the suburban area as there is no traffic in the empty roads. Thanks to public transport, I could get to a place,” said a commuter who went to buy cancer drugs at the new Bogyoke market on 26 September.
To prevent the infection of the virus, the passengers must wear the mask, and hand sanitizer is placed in the bus, and hand washbasins are installed at bus-stops and train stations. The YBS was launched on 16 January 2017 during the incumbent government’s term. Typically, over 100 bus lines are operating 4,500 buses on about 124 routes, along with the Airport Shuttle. The number of daily commuters has been estimated at 1.8 million.
The YRTA was formed to improve the transport facilities in Yangon for the convenience of the public. Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein was appointed as the chairman of the transport authority. In April 2019, the number of members was increased to 22 from 16, with the YRTA appointing the Security and Border Affairs Minister as Vice Chairman 1 and Yangon Mayor as Vice Chairman 2, besides officials from related departments and organizations.—Htin Paw Win/ Htet Myat (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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