The public ferry operating on Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac rivers between Phnom Penh and Takhmao town began charging a $0.50 service fee per passenger on Monday, according to a Phnom Penh Municipal Hall announcement issued that day.
Its spokesman Meth Meas Pheakdey on Tuesday said it was time to charge the fee to cover operating expenses, after a year of free service since April last year.
“It should be time to instate some fee to take care of other expenses, as we have already given free rides since April last year to observe the quality and promote the service,” he said.
Since it began operating in April, he said, the ferry has serviced an average of 100 passengers daily, with these numbers expected to gradually increase.
“The service charge is suitable to pay for transportation on the ferry, which is purposed to help reduce traffic jams. In the beginning, we may see some obstacles, but since we’ll try to maintain our service and improve quality, I’m sure that our patrons will continue to support us,” he said.
The free public ferry operates between 7am and 5pm along the Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac rivers, making five stops in Phnom Penh, with a terminus in Kandal province’s Takhmao town.
The cost of a ferry ticket is 2,000 riel ($0.50) per passenger while bus tickets are currently 1,500 riel, and have the same policy of free rides given to students, disabled travellers, the elderly, monks, athletes, garment workers and teachers.
The ferry is among a host of new public transportation initiatives launched in Cambodia last year, as the government makes a push to expand public transit options in the capital.
Royal Railway also launched a rail service linking the Phnom Penh International Airport to Phnom Penh Royal Railway Station in April.