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Published on Monday, 25 February 2013 15:00
A new payment system that will see Yangon’s bus drivers receive salaries rather than commissions is in the works and it is hoped that it will reduce accidents by removing the incentive for drivers to speed and pack their vehicles with as many passengers as possible, officials say.
The plan was discussed at a meeting of the All Bus-lines Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles on February 20, said committee chairman Hla Aung, adding that the meeting was held to discuss ways to reduce traffic accidents.
Yangon’s traffic chaos as well as the rising number of accidents is blamed in part on a profit-sharing system between the owners of buses and the drivers and conductors who work on them. The former receive 70 percent of profits while the latter share the remaining 30 percent.
City residents often complain that drivers race to pick up passengers while conductors bellow at them between stops and officials say these practices are the result of a race for profits.
A new payment system will allow passengers to pay with a card, all fares will be tracked and a monthly salary can be given to drivers, officials said.
“The system is used worldwide. Salaries are needed to prevent speeding and seeking passengers in improper ways ... [We] need to know the actual income for a day for the system, so plans are underway to introduce the i-Pay system,” Hla Aung said.
There are 386 registered bus lines operating in Yangon. They operate about 6,300 buses that carry more than four million passengers a day.
These buses are almost always overcrowded, though this is illegal. Drivers and conductors can face hefty fines and, for habitual offenders, suspension of their license if their buses are overcrowded, but the law is rarely enforced and most passengers accept overcrowding as inevitable.
Tariffs on imported buses were reduced recently because of the high demand for new buses in Yangon to reduce overcrowded commuting.
Official figures show that there were a total of 325 accidents involving buses in Yangon Region in 2010. They claimed 115 lives and injured 819 people, including 100 who required amputation.