Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City are considering sending minibuses to smaller roads and alleys so that local residents can have easier and more convenient access to this means of public transportation.
The Management and Operation Center for Public Transport has recently proposed the operation of 210 small buses with 12 to 16 seats along narrow roads and alleys in order to “maximize the capacity of the city’s public transport system.”
These buses are designed to travel short journeys or to provide commuters with a fast way to access the city’s existing bus routes.
The project is expected to be carried out in District 1, District 10, and Tan Binh District, at an estimated cost of VND77.3 billion (US$3.3 million) covered by the municipal budget.
According to Tran Chi Trung, director of the public transport management center, the current public transportation system can only meet ten percent of the demand.
One of the reasons for such a low ratio is that many people are living in small alleys between three and six meters wide, which are impossible for normal buses to enter, Trung said.
These residents have to walk an average distance of 600 to 1,000 meters to reach the nearest bus stop, he continued.
The minibuses will be the solution to this issue, Trung stated, adding that the project is meant to encourage more people to opt for public transportation in their daily commute.
Thanks to this, the city’s public transport system will be able to meet 15 to 20 percent of the travel demand by 2020.
The project will also help reduce traffic jams and accidents, Trung said.
In order to prevent ineffective investment and wastefulness, local bus operators believed that a pilot phase is needed.
Dr. Chu Cong Minh, a lecturer in traffic infrastructure at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Science, backed the opinion, highlighting that authorities should choose one district to test the project.
This trial phase will help calculate the actual demand for bus commute while determining other necessary aspects to boost the efficiency of the plan.
Efforts should be exerted to clear sidewalks and alleys as such public spaces are often occupied by local residents, which will pose obstacles to the operation of the minibuses, Minh elaborated.
Such policies as fare reduction should also be considered to attract more people to the form of public transportation, he added.