Ministry remains lukewarm to HCMC minibus proposal

By Gia Minh   March 25, 2021 | 08:00 pm PT
Ministry remains lukewarm to HCMC minibus proposal
A minibus operated by a private company on a pilot scheme in HCMC's District 1 to serve tourists. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh.
The Ministry of Transport has told HCMC to review the "feasibility" of a plan to operate public minibuses and to provide more details about the proposal.

In a recent communication, it told the city it would submit the plan to the government for approval once the task is completed.

In February the city had submitted a proposal saying it wants to operate minibuses with 12-17 seats on roads that are too narrow for normal buses.

This was its second attempt after in July 2020 the ministry rejected a plan to operate minibuses on six routes in industrial and residential areas and key traffic points.

It had said then that minibuses do not comply with provisions of the 2008 Law on Road Traffic that require buses to have at least 17 seats.

In both proposals the city said out of 5,000 streets more than 3,400 are less than seven meters wide, which makes them too narrow for its existing buses.

Without public transport in their neighborhood, people are forced to rely on private vehicles, and, in recent years, app-based motorbike taxis and cars.

In its February proposal it said minibuses could provide transportation in residential and industrial areas and places without due yet to be developed thanks to their size.

Minibuses could also carry people to and from metro and bus stations, it said.

The city wants public transportation to account for 15 percent of commuters by 2025 and 25 percent by 2030, up from just 9.2 percent now, according to its Department of Transport.

By 2022 it wants to have 30 minibus routes linked with stations on its metro line No. 1, completion of which was recently pushed back to next year, and its first bus rapid transit line, which will begin operations in 2023.

Since 2018 it has had to repeatedly suspended bus services due to lack of patronage. Only 128 out of its original 136 routes are left now.

According to official data, 305 million passengers used the buses in 2012, but the number dropped steadily by 6.6 percent a year in 2014-18.

In 2019 it fell by a precipitous 13 percent to 229.6 million.

If contrast, ride-hailing firms carried just 20.6 million people in 2016 but 191 million in 2019.

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