The plan on using clean fuel buses in Ho Chi Minh City will likely to be deferred since more preparations and trial time are required, says the bus operator.
Clean gas buses are expected to replace decrepit ones in HCMC (Photo: Minh Tri)
HCMC last year began running two compressed natural gas buses on a trial basis between Vietnam National University in Thu Duc District and Mien Tay Bus Station, where vehicles shuttle people between the city and Mekong Delta destinations.
Compressed natural gas (CNG) is a clean fuel alternative to gasoline and diesel.
“The trial basis shows the cost of fuel for the new buses is 40 percent less than the amount for those using diesel fuel,” says Nguyen Tuan Viet, deputy general director of Saigon Passenger Bus Company.
“However, the two buses on trial ran in outlying districts only, which have wide streets light traffic.”
Mechanics of Saigon Passenger Bus Company also needs more time to study maintenance works on the clean gas bus, Viet adds.
The company has built two CNG stations for the new buses, which are located on Pho Quang Street in Tan Binh District and Nguyen Huu Canh Street in Binh Thanh District, he says.
Saigon Passenger Transport Company, which operates 36 bus routes in the city, will buy 21 buses using loans provided by the municipal public investment arm. Each of them costs between VND1.8 billion (US$90,000) and VND2 billion.
The firm said that the buses will serve the Saigon – Binh Tay Route from District 1 to District 6.
“The buses using CNG will run on trial basis in the next six months. If they prove efficient, we will propose to buy 29 more,” Viet says.
During a meeting last year, the city legislative body announced the city would enlarge its budget for bus fare subsidies by 17 percent to VND700 billion ($34 million) this year to encourage more people to use public transportation.
While Saigon Passenger Transport Company is excited about the new buses, its counterpart HCMC Bus Cooperative says it was treated unfairly by the city’s authorities.
“At the outset, my company and Saigon Passenger Transport Company were the first two bus operators receiving permit to carry out the plan on clean gas buses. Each put one new bus on trial basis,” says general director Phung Dang Hai of HCMC Bus Cooperative.
“However, the city eventually put onus on them to expand the plan.”
Hai says HCMC Bus Cooperative should have been the clean gas bus operator, citing the firm’s nearly 1,000 buses, an equivalent of about one-third of the city’s total number, compared to its counterpart’s 700.
Saigon Passenger Transport Company has also been granted import tax exemption and loans with preferential interest rates.
“We do not require preferential loans and import tax exemption. We only asked for the deficit between the costs of using CNG and diesel gas in five years in order to continue to expand the service,” Hai says.
“However, the city’s Department of Finance disagreed. That is why we are not granted the plan.”