Ho Chi Minh City buses keep losing passengers

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A new bus service launched in Ho Chi Minh City in March that runs between Tan Son Nhat Airport and the city downtown. Photo: Doc Lap A new bus service launched in Ho Chi Minh City in March that runs between Tan Son Nhat Airport and the city downtown. Photo: Doc Lap

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Bus service operators in Ho Chi Minh City are struggling to retain passengers as more people continue to abandon public transport for motorbikes. 
Figures from the city’s transport department showed that public bus passengers in the first three months dropped 5.6 percent from the same period last year, to 134.7 million.
Pham Dinh Duc from the department told Zing News that the passenger number has been going down as most buses are in poor quality after more than ten years in service.
He claimed that lower fuel prices have sent many passengers back to motorbikes. Gas prices dropped four consecutive times this year to a seven-year low on February 18 before rising last week.
Buses are essentially the only public transport available in Ho Chi Minh City. Despite the cheap fares of between VND5,000-10,000 (22-44 US cents), many passengers are not happy as they said the vehicles are not friendly to disabled people and the routes are not well connected.
The number of passengers dropped nearly 12 percent last year to 324 million.
HCMC officials at a recent meeting set a target to raise the number to one million a day in 2020.
The city in March launched a new route without government subsidy connecting Tan Son Nhat Airport and the downtown area. Full tickets cost VND20,000, or less than a dollar.
Two bus services using compressed natural gas that burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel fuel were launched early last month, connecting the northwestern district of Hoc Mon to Thu Duc on the east side.
Duc said the department will rearrange many routes this year to improve the coverage.

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