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Ho Chi Minh City scraps BRT to focus on high-quality buses

Monday, September 11, 2017, 11:09 GMT+7

The administration of Ho Chi Minh City has canceled a plan to build its first-ever bus rapid transit (BRT) line and said it would instead serve passengers by opening more high-quality bus routes.

The BRT line had been set to open along the city’s Vo Van Kiet and Mai Chi Tho avenues, running a total of 23kilometers across six districts and costing some US$144 million.

The project was launched last year and was set to open to the public in 2018.

According to the municipal Department of Transport, BRT lines are ‘cost-ineffective and impractical’ especially when considering the southern metropolis’ current transport infrastructure.

Calculations by the department reveal that the city’s first BRT line would only shuttle 17,700 passengers per day in its first year, which is a small number in comparison to regular buses, especially when its huge development cost is factored in.

Meanwhile, as the department points out, the running of high-quality buses requires no further investment in new infrastructure such as smart traffic systems, new bus stops or separate lanes, making it a more efficient option.

High-quality bus projects can also be developed using official development assistance (ODA), and are a less risky investment in general, the department explained.

Ho Chi Minh City currently has three high-quality bus lines in operation, which run between Tan Son Nhat International Airport and the city center, as well as between the airport and busy hospitals and major bus stations.

The modern buses are equipped with security cameras and other safety measures, and meet Euro II emission standards.

The vehicles have been well received so far despite costing up to five times more than regular bus fares, which is a result of them not being subsidized by the state budget, according to the municipal Department of Transport.

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