Many passengers in Ho Chi Minh City have grumbled about two common disturbances when traveling on a bus: noise pollution and obscene language.
Students, local commuters, and a number of foreign backpackers and long-time expats find buses a cheap means of transport.
However, the low fares come at a cost.
Apart from riding in stuffy, worn-out buses and tolerating unfriendly service, passengers are often victimized by music relentlessly turned on at loud volume by bus drivers, some readers lamented to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
The fast-beat, deafening music takes a toll on bus passengers, particularly the elderly.
Thu Dung, a reader, told Tuoi Tre that a number of bus drivers and attendants also turn on songs with disturbingly modified lyrics.
Drivers generally make excuses that playing music loud helps relieve their stress and drowsiness during daily routine rides.
According to Tran Nam, another reader, many of his students complained that several bus drivers habitually play “rubbish” songs with insipid melodies and nonsensical lyrics.
Some drivers also play discs featuring ghost stories which scare not a few passengers, particularly young children, out of their wits.
“In my opinion, riding buses means being in public space. In addition, passengers do pay fares and thus deserve appropriate radio and TV content during their journey,” Nam stressed.
Loud music can also drown out other noises inside the moving buses, including passengers’ cries to inform drivers or attendants of their next stops, or their panicked screams as they are yet to fully get off the vehicles when they keep rolling on.
The earsplitting music also keeps passengers from talking on the phone, particularly in emergency cases.
Many drivers and attendants also habitually use foul language while talking to one another, especially when they are angered during traffic congestion or by reckless motorcyclists.
Most passengers, particularly those in front seats or with young children, find such frequent use of abusive language greatly annoying.
The same situation applies to drivers and attendants on several coach routes.
Phung Dang Hai, general director of the Ho Chi Minh City Transport Cooperative, which offers several bus lines to local universities, acknowledged in a Tuoi Tre interview that his company has received passenger feedback on bus drivers playing and providing inappropriate music and entertainment content.
His company will impose strict penalties on the violating drivers, he added.
Nguyen Huu Vinh San, of SaigonBus, a bus operator, pointed out that there is currently no regulation that requires bus drivers to offer entertainment content during rides.
Le Trung Tinh, chair of the municipal Passenger Transport and Tourism Association, urged bus operators to tighten control over their drivers regarding their music playing habit.
He suggested that passengers note down bus license plates, routes, and the titles of the songs or entertainment programs which they find inappropriate for their feedback to the operators.