Ho Chi Minh City is expected to operate its first-ever river bus route this August to help relieve the increasing traffic pressure on local streets.
After nearly eight years of preparation, the river bus route No.1 is set to connect Bach Dang Port in District 1 with Linh Dong Ward in Thu Duc District.
The 10.8-kilometer-long route will run along the Saigon River and Thanh Da Canal.
The construction of the second route stretching from Bach Dang to Lo Gom in District 8, measuring 10.3 kilometers, is anticipated to begin in 2018.
The two projects cost a total of VND125 billion (US$5.48 million).
The upcoming inauguration of the maiden river bus route has received quite positive feedback from local residents.
Nguyen Minh Phong, a student from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, expressed his joy at the new form of transportation.
“My house in District 2 is only 20 minutes away from the school. However, I’m often late for class due to serious traffic jams,” Phong said.
“I will absolutely switch to using the river ‘bus’ to avoid the jams as well as smoke and dust on the road,” he continued.
A map detailing the nine stops of the river bus route No.1 that connects District 1 and Thu Duc District. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Thi Huyen Mi, a law student, said she could not wait to get on the waterway bus.
“It will be a great convenience as my school is located near the Bach Dang Port,” Mi elaborated.
Trinh Thi Phuong Anh, a resident in District 6, considered the river bus a good way to ease road congestion and air pollution, and to take advantage of the city’s river and canal system.
According to Nguyen Kim Toan, director of Thuong Nhat Company, which is the investor of the river bus project, the new transport system has to meet a variety of requirements regarding esthetics, convenience, and punctuality.
Aside from providing a comfortable journey and sightseeing opportunity, these buses have to be on time in order to attract passengers, Toan stated.
A one-way journey will take approximately 21 minutes, during which the boat will drop by seven stops besides the two main terminals, Toan explained.
Each trip will cost VND15,000 ($0.66), he continued, adding that the fare would remain the same in the first one or two years.
The model of a river bus stop. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A clean river is necessary
While supporting the river bus, Associate Professor Nguyen Van Hiep, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, still voices some concern over the new means of transportation.
“Water pollution has to be addressed to maximize the potentialities of these river buses,” Hiep remarked.
“I have been on speedboats and cruises along the Saigon River so many times and I notice that garbage in the water affects the speed of the boats,” the expert explained.
It is necessary or dredge the river and deal with rubbish properly for the smooth operation of the waterway bus, thus attracting more passengers, he added.
Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, asserted that dredging activities should be carried out promptly to ensure pleasant scenery for passengers.
The project investor and the municipal Department of Transport should also inform local residents of the new transport service before its official opening.