Saigon's new river buses leave passengers waiting on the dock

By Huu Cong   August 21, 2017 | 03:36 pm GMT+7
Saigon's new river buses leave passengers waiting on the dock
The river bus of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Cong

The boats should have been cruising down the river Monday, but let's just call it a pilot project.

HCMC launched pilot services of its first river bus on Monday along the Saigon River in District 1, but one thing was missing - passengers.

Passengers should been sailing smoothly down the river this week, but the five boats that will be operating the service will not be put into official operation until October 1.

The first river boats on the route will sail 10.8 kilometers (6.7 miles) from Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 to Linh Dong Station in Thu Duc District, passing through District 2 and Binh Thanh District.

With 12 stops in total, the entire trip takes half an hour, cutting a third off the time it would take to travel by road, and costing VND15,000 (66 cents).

The investor, Thuong Nhat Co. Ltd, said that it will be difficult to attract passengers at first, but in the long run the river bus will play a major part in reducing gridlock in the city.

Saigon has more than 1,000km of inland waterways, but it doesn't make use of them, said Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the city’s transport department. The river bus service should ease traffic jams and attract more tourists, he said.

The second route from Bach Dang Wharf to District 8 is scheduled to open in early 2018. The two routes are said to have cost an estimated VND120 billion ($5.28 million).