Vietnam’s first bus rapid transit system speeds away after false start

By Phuong Son   February 7, 2017 | 02:56 pm GMT+7

The system has received positive feedback from commuters a month since it launched.

Vietnam’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) system recorded a sudden surge in passenger numbers on February 2, the first day it started collecting bus fares after one month of free services.

Data from Hanoi’s largest bus operator Transerco showed that on Monday morning, the system served more than 6,700 passengers, up nearly 30 percent against the previous morning, with all 173 bus journeys filled to capacity. More than a third of ticket sales were monthly passes. 

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A rapid bus stuffed with Hanoians on Monday morning. Photo by VnExpress Phuong Son

Tran The Vien from Ba Dinh District told VnExpress that going to work on the new buses is fairly cheap and convenient. He only has to leave home early to avoid traffic jams.

Another commuter named Van said: “After taking them several times, I feel quite comfortable with the new vehicles. I have just bought a monthly ticket to keep travelling by bus.”

The BRT project was kicked off in 2013 with $55 million investment from the World Bank.

The system was put on a trial run last December to mixed results before offering services free of charge in January this year. Following the trial promotion, passengers pay VND7,000 ($0.3) for a one-way ticket on a route that connects Kim Ma and Yen Nghia, the most populated areas in the city.

The service offers 24 buses running from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, and 14 buses on Sunday. Buses arrive every 5 to 15 minutes. 

The 14km route the new buses will take. Ilustration by VnExpress/Tien Thanh, Ba Do

The 15km Hanoi BRT route. Ilustration by VnExpress/Tien Thanh, Ba Do

Transerco Director Nguyen Thuy said that in January, the system ran 9,300 journeys, 98 percent of which were on time. In total, 400,000 passengers used the service, averaging 40 passengers per route compared to its design capacity of 90 passengers.

The local government is considering a second bus route to push public transportation in a city dominated by two-wheelers.

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