Saigon-Vung Tau hydrofoil service to halt operations by year-end

By Toan Dao   November 13, 2016 | 11:59 am GMT+7
Saigon-Vung Tau hydrofoil service to halt operations by year-end
A hydrofoil operating on HCMC-Vung Tau route. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Cong

The once-popular boat route has been priced out by bus services.

Four hydrofoils operating between Ho Chi Minh City and the southern beach town of Vung Tau will stop operations in late December when their permits expire, local media reported on Sunday.

Authorities from both localities have asked the central government to extend the permits, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper said on Sunday, citing Vina Express JSC and Quang Hung Transport Limited Company - the two operators of the hydrofoils.

The service became a popular alternative to making the journey by bus for people commuting between HCMC and Vung Tau soon after it opened in the 1990s. During peak years, the service ran 21 hydrofoils and transported about 500,000 passengers a year.

But the number of hydrofoils operating on the route fell to just four from 14 in January 2014 when a Vina Express hydrofoil caught fire, forcing 85 passengers and seven crew members to abandon the burning boat.

Transport industry experts said the sharp decrease in the number of passengers using the hydrofoil service is due to fierce price competition from bus companies.

It costs just VND80,000 ($3.5)-VND90,000 ($3.9) to travel by bus from HCMC to Vung Tau in one hour and 45 minutes since the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Express opened in February last year.

The price for the hydrofoil service is much higher, at VND200,000 ($8.8)-VND250,000 ($11) per passenger, and takes one hour and 20 minutes.

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