Cambodian police officers direct traffic in Phnom Penh. Pic: AP.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — People in Phnom Penh boarded city buses Wednesday for the first time in over a decade, as authorities introduced a public transportation system aimed at relieving traffic jams in the Cambodian capital.

Phnom Penh’s City Hall launched a one-month pilot program Wednesday, with 10 air-conditioned buses traveling a single route that includes 36 stops through the city center.

If the program is successful, more buses and routes will be added, said Koeut Chhe, a senior City Hall official.

The last time Phnom Penh had public buses was for a brief period in 2001, but the service was canceled after two months due to lack of interest from the motorbike-riding public.

Currently, the city of roughly 1.5 million people has about 1.5 million motorbikes and more than 30,000 cars clogging the roads, according to Koeut Chhe,

“Public buses can help reduce the traffic jams,” he said. “We want to change the attitude of Cambodian people and convince people to use public transportation.”

The current and previous bus programs were funded by a Japanese government agency, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, which helps with developmental projects in Cambodia.

It costs a flat rate of 1,500 riel (35 cents) for a single ticket, which is at least three times cheaper than the cost of a motorbike taxi for the full route.