HCM City bus services seek higher subsidy
Nine of 13 bus enterprises and co-ops in HCM City have asked for a reduction of bus trips on several lines as their subsidies are lower than bus owners’ expenditures.
|More investment is needed for bus stops in HCM City. — VNS File Photo|
The petitions have been sent to the city’s People’s Council and People's Committee, and relevant departments and agencies.
In an effort to increase profits, bus firms have sought to reduce or suspend a number of bus trips with few passengers.
Nguyen Van Trieu, chairman of 19 May Bus Co-op, said that state subsidies for HCM City bus services this year amounted to VND1 trillion (nearly US$43 million), the same level as 2018.
Trieu said the19 May Bus Co-op suffered losses of nearly VND18 billion (approx. US$772,000) last year.
With such a level of state subsidies, bus firms and co-ops will continue to encounter difficulties, and some could face bankruptcy.
According to members of the Dong Nam Bus Co-op, the Centre for Public Transportation Management under HCM City’s Department of Transportation has set a growth rate of 10.67 per cent for bus services.
They said the increase in bus ticket prices was not enough to make up for the drop in subsidies
“We must struggle to maintain our services with loans from banks and other sources,” said a member of Dong Nam Bus Co-op, who declined to be named.
Decrease in passengers
Despite state subsidies, the number of bus passengers have decreased year after year. Buses have to start their trips on schedule even with a small number of passengers.
Meanwhile, bus ticket fares remain low to attract passengers.
Without state subsidies, bus enterprises and co-ops would have to raise bus fares.
However, Tran Trong Thao, director of Dong Nam Bus Co-op, said higher bus ticket fares would put an end to the city’s bus services as the number of passengers would decline.
He said motorbike services have set prices of only VND5,000 for less than an 8km trip, compared with the VND6,000 bus fare for the same trip.
“Motorbikes also provide more convenient services,” Thao said.
Chairman Trieu of 19 May Bus Co-op said that many students who took the co-op’s buses to school at the National University Campus in Thu Duc District have turned to riding or driving motorbikes.
“Many of them even use their motorbikes for Grab and Go-Viet motorbike services, and compete with bus services,” said Trieu.
Le Trung Tinh, ex-chief of the Transportation Management Division at the city's Transportation Department, said the number of passengers using bus services had dropped because city bus services had become worse.
“There is no special lane for buses on the city’s streets which suffer traffic jams in peak hours and cannot provide timely or punctual services to passengers,” said Tinh.
Bus services must be improved, and bus firms and coops must provide higher-quality services to passengers, Tinh said.
“To reach these targets, investments are required for not only new buses but also for infrastructure,” he added.