Officials slam Uber, Grab for choking up Saigon streets

By VnExpress   January 4, 2017 | 12:15 am PT
Officials slam Uber, Grab for choking up Saigon streets
Nearly eight million vehicles are fighting for space in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Vinh Phu
15,300 cars have joined the popular ride-hailing services since their debut in 2014, aggravating Saigon's traffic woes.

The increasing popularity of ride-hailing services in Ho Chi Minh City is thwarting the city’s efforts to limit vehicles on its already overstrained road network, officials have said.

The number of cars registered for Grab and Uber, which both arrived in the city in 2014, have topped 15,300, according to local media reports, which cited new data released by the transport department at a recent conference.

There is no further data breakdown, which means it is unclear how many of those cars are exclusively serving Grab and Uber passengers and thus it is difficult to quantify the impacts of these services on Saigon streets.

But officials said the number is high, considering that the city has been restricting the total number of taxis at roughly 11,000 over the past five years.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, the city chairman, was quoted as saying that the city has successfully controlled the taxi boom, but it is having trouble with the ride-hailing apps.

By the end of November 2016, vehicles in the city increased nearly 6 percent from a year ago to 7.86 million, including 615,400 cars. There were also more than one million motorbikes brought by migrants.

Last year, the city had up to 250 new cars every day.

The growing army of vehicles has taken a toll on traffic. Public buses in December reported that the average travel speed in the city slowed down to only 18 kilometers per hour.

Ngo Hai Duong, head of the Road Infrastructure Development Management Division at the transport department, said the city has 4,155 kilometers of road, but only less than half of the city streets are wide enough for cars and buses.

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