Ho Chi Minh City plans to give exclusive lanes for buses by the end of March to improve the public transport experience and bring back riders.
The city’s transport department said it is going to speed up public buses by giving them their own space on major and often crowded streets including Dien Bien Phu, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Nguyen Van Troi and Vo Thi Sau, the Saigon Times reported.
Further details have not been provided.
Buses are currently the only means of public transport in the city, the country’s most crowded with more than 12 million people including migrants.
But the bulky vehicles now have to share the roads with cars and motorbikes. This has not only slowed them down but also earned them the nickname “road monsters” for sometimes-deadly collisions with other drivers.
Despite relatively low fares of no more than VND10,000 or 45 cents, thanks to subsidies worth more than VND1 trillion ($44 million) a year, public buses are losing passengers.
Figures from the department show millions of passengers have been getting off in the past years. In 2016, ridership dropped 12 percent to 285 million.
HCMC officials are trying to raise that number to 360 million a year in 2020, hoping that public transport can help contain the growth of personal vehicles, which increased around 6 percent last year to nearly eight million.
Last year, the city launched two new bus routes, without government subsidies, between Tan Son Nhat airport and downtown neighborhoods. Tickets cost up to VND40,000, or less than two dollars.
The city has also introduced two special “green” services with 28 buses using compressed natural gas, and plans to add 300 such buses this year.