HCM City minibus project faces sceptical public
  • | nguoilaodong, | September 05, 2018 12:13 PM
Many experts have opposed the minibus project in HCM City claiming it is infeasible and a waste of city's budget.


A public bus in Vietnam

The Public Transport Management and Operation Centre has submitted to the HCM City Department of Transport the project to develop minibuses to improve the capacity of public passenger transport in the first phase.

According to the centre, public transport system only meets 10% of the demand as 85% of the population in Tan Binh, Phu Nhuan, Binh Tan and neighbouring districts are living in alleyways. Many houses are 600 metres to nearly 1km away from the nearest bus stops. Moreover, those alleyways are only three to six metres wide so regular buses can't access them.

The centre suggested a leaner bus with 12 to 16 seats that can go into the alleyways to get more people to use public transport and reduce congestion and air pollution. The project needs VND77.3bn (USD2.3m) for 210 buses in the 2018-2020 period and the cost will come from the city's budget. Tan Binh, District 1 and 10 will have the first minibuses.

The minibuses will help the city to achieve the goal for the public transport system to meet 20% of the demand by 2020. It will also serve as the school buses for the pupils.

However, many experts have raised voices against the proposal as a similar project was carried out in 2002. Many drivers modified small trucks into 12-seat buses when being encouraged by the local authorities but the project wasn't successful. Six years later, a new regulation was issued and stipulated that only vehicles with 17 seats or more are considered buses. Without preferential policies or real use, the owners bought larger vehicles.

Nguyen Minh Dong, a former employee of Volkswagen said the alleyways in HCM City were crowded, too small with too many dead-ends. The buses will not be able to turn around or cause congestion. Moreover, the distance from a neighbourhood to a bus stop is not far.

"There's no need for minibuses, we need to encourage people to be more proactive in a metropolis," he said.

Dong suggested investing in the public bus system along main routes, city's centre and airport.

Vu Van Ai from Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology agreed and said the authorities should have plans to encourage walking habit. Motorbikes are still the best means of transport for alleyways. The authorities, however, should review the locations of bus stops to make it more convenient for passengers.

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