Next month Ho Chi Minh City will put into operation its first river bus services (Bach Dang-Linh Dong route), while a second route will be operational from early 2018, aimed at promoting local waterway transportation and reducing pressure on the city’s roads.
Announcing the plan at a press briefing yesterday on the southern city’s socio-economic situation in the first half of 2017, Deputy Head of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transportation Tran Quang Lam said that the department has planned to deploy river bus routes in line with the city's waterway development strategy.
Currently, the 11km river bus No.1 from Bach Dang wharf in District 1 to Linh Dong ward (Thu Duc district) is almost complete. It is anticipated that, by the end of June, the route will be put through a trial run after which in July it will officially be put into operation.
According to the plan, there are a total of seven stop spots along the route in Districts 1, 2, Binh Thanh and Thu Duc. The route starts at Bach Dang wharf (District 1), follows the Sai Gon River through Thanh Da canal, then ends at the crossing station on Binh Quoi River (Linh Dong ward, Thu Duc district) and vice versa
The second bus route from Bach Dang-Lo Gom (District 8) was expected to be put into operation sooner, but progress has been halted as the route passes through the construction area of the city’s anti-flooding project at Mong Bridge.
Route No. 2 will pass through Districts 1, 4, 5, 6, and 8 with a total length of 10.3 km, from Bach Dang wharf running along Saigon River through Ben Nghe canal and Tau Hu channel to Lo Gom wharf and vice versa.
Vo Van Hoan, Head of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee's Office, said that the southern economic hub is making efforts to finalise the routes. However, the deployment is rather complex as there must be adequate waterway infrastructure and related facilities, such as a parking lot, services at stations and waterway safety measures in sync with other projects; therefore, river bus services must be implemented gradually.
Previously, the Department of Transportation submitted an investment project for two river bus services to the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee. According to Lam, the two river bus routes will be serviced by modern ships that meet safety standards and which are invested by a private enterprise under a BOO contract.
A model of the river bus to be used on the first two bus routes in HCM City. (Credit: VNE)
According to calculations of the investor, in the first stage, the routes will be equipped with ten vessels with a minimum capacity of 60 seats. With a distance of about 11 km and travel time at 30 minutes per trip, it is estimated that the two river bus services will carry an estimated 5,000 commuters per day.
The fare will be approximately VND15,000 (US$0.66) per one-way trip. Estimated costs for opening the wharf and additional expenditure on the two lines is about VND120 billion (US$5.3 million).
Earlier this year, the city finished renovating and put into use 11 inland waterway wharves (piers, waiting areas and stations) to serve tourism in 2017. Construction for the 11 inland waterway wharves were commenced in 2013 with an investment of about VND20 billion (US$881,000).
According to the plan, Ho Chi Minh City will have five waterway routes for tourism, with the majority of services departing from Bach Dang wharf linking up with the city’s tourist sites.NDO