Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, is the most developed area of the country. For economic and education purposes, many people from different provinces have migrated to the city, resulting in a sharp increase in the city population during the last 10 years. An example can be seen in the booming of garment factories which has brought thousands of workers to Phnom Penh and its outskirts. Approximately 2.3 million people were estimated to be living in Phnom Penh in 2012. This represents a remarkable wave of urbanization. This trend has also brought the problem of congestion, and increasing demands for public transportation.
Besides personal transport methods, three-wheeled motor vehicles and motorbike taxis have been the most common means of transport in the city. Along with the increase in population, Phnom Penh’s roads have become busier and busier with motorbikes and tuk-tuks. Public transportation has been sought out as a potential long-term solution to the congestion problems.
There was once an attempt to initiate a public bus service in Phnom Penh: back in 2001, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) contributed funds towards a two month trial. However, this pilot failed due to lack of funding and interest. The possibility remained dormant until 2014, when it was revived again. Now open, this new city bus service, different from the past, has become popular and has expanded at a fast pace. This is a good sign that public transportation services are developing in Phnom Penh.
Even better, JICA has unveiled news that a rail transit system is the next plan to help relieve the traffic congestion in Phnom Penh. This is an important development as the population of the city will possibly reach 5 million people in 2050. The project could be started in 2020 and finished in 2035. The first rail transit will likely be the connection between the city and the airport.
The urbanization of Phnom Penh to a certain extent makes the city more congested, a major concern in the everyday lives of the population. Thus, it is vital that public transport be a major part of the urban planning of Phnom Penh. At the same time, while we are waiting for future solutions to the city’s congestion problems, certain actions should be taken to start improving it today.