Will the water bus service in Ho Chi Minh City be the game-changer

Picture from Vietnam Tourism

Traffic in Ho Chi Minh City has been citizens’ nightmare. The water bus service may be the solution.

Editorial

On 25 November 2017, Vietnam launched its first water bus service in Ho Chi Minh City. It will help alleviate traffic congestions and promote tourism on Saigon River.

The water bus service is in line with local conditions

The water bus route will run along the Saigon River, connecting Bach Dang Port in District 1 with Linh Dong Ward in District Thu Duc. The water bus will pick up passengers at 12 stops. It will traverse 10.3 km in half an hour.

There will be five boats serving for the route, each with 80 seats. Passengers need to pay a fare of VND15,000 (US$0.66) for one trip. To attract passengers and to create the residents’ habit to travel by water bus, the service will be free for the first ten days.

There are more than 112 rivers and canals in Ho Chi Minh City, forming a delivery network of 1,000 miles. Therefore, Ho Chi Minh City is extremely well-positioned to develop water transportation.

Ho Chi Minh citizens have longed for a reliable public transportation

The overcrowded traffic has been a major headache for Ho Chi Minh citizens. Population growth and an increasing number of motorbikes and cars have worsened traffic congestion in the city. Currently, there are close to eight million motorbikes and over half a million cars in Ho Chi Minh City. However, transport infrastructure development in this city remains limited. The public transit usage in Ho Chi Minh City is only 10%.

Residents in Ho Chi Minh City have been eager for a dependable public transport system. The water bus service is welcomed by the citizens. A local citizen Xuan Trang stated that she would benefit a lot from the service. “I really can’t wait to get on the bus at Binh An Stop in District 2 to go to work. I will also take my family on a sightseeing tour along the Saigon River on weekends,” she said. Ngoc Thanh, another resident, complained her daily commute to work in District 5 takes over an hour and involves traffic jams. “I can easily get another [road] bus to arrive at my company after getting down at Bach Dang Port,” she said.

Picture from Vietnam National Administration of  Tourism

More constructions are underway

A second route is now under construction. It will connect Bach Dang with Lo Gom in District 6 and is set to complete at the beginning of 2018.

Another four water bus routes are also under planning. With the launch of the water bus service, the government aims to raise the public transit usage in Ho Chi Minh City to 20% by 2020.

Hanoi may follow suit and take water bus as a solution

Hanoi’s traffic is even worse than Ho Chi Minh City’s. According to Uber’s survey, citizens in Hanoi spent an average time of 58 minutes being stuck in traffic jams daily. It ranked 4th worst in Asia in terms of congestion hours.

The government has launched a contest to seek solutions to Hanoi’s traffic problem. The “water taxi” solution won out. It is likely that Hanoi will follow suit and build the water bus service system soon.

Vietnam has the lowest public transit usage in ASEAN. Water transportation has the potential to be the solution. Ho Chi Minh City has already set a good example for the adoption of water bus. It is the time that other cities in Vietnam took the same solution to improve the public transportation system.