WASHINGTON, D.C. (VNS) — The World Bank on Friday approved a loan of US$124 million to improve the efficiency of public transport in a high-priority corridor in HCM City.
The city, Viet Nam's economic hub, generates a fifth of the country's gross domestic product. Along with its surrounding region, HCM City accounts for almost half of Viet Nam's total manufacturing output.
"To ensure continued strong economic performance and achieve Viet Nam's goal of successfully transitioning to middle-income status, the national government is seeking to address infrastructure constraints as one of its key strategic direction," Arturo Ardila-Gomez, the World Bank's Project Team Leader, said.
"Given HCM City's pivotal role in the national economy, the project focuses on upgrading a key transport corridor to demonstrate the potential of a sustainable urban transport system."
The project will finance a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor between An Lac in the south-west and Rach Chiec in the north-east along the Vo Van Kiet and Mai Chi Tho highways.
Once completed, the system — stretching around 23 km with 28 stations — will be able to transport up to 28,300 passengers a day.
Its design, addressing the needs of women, children and people with disabilities, will include keeping all bus and station doors at the same level, making it easier for passengers to board and exit buses and load strollers and others.
The stations will have low-slope ramps for wheelchair access.
The project will also finance at least 28 buses running on compressed natural gas, a cleaner fuel that reduces emissions.
The project will seek to showcase the advantages of a BRT, help city authorities prepare for implementing a proposed six-line network and lay the foundation for HCM City to build the institutions needed to run an integrated public transport system in future.
In future the metro, tramway, BRT, and bus lines will need to be co-ordinated to provide users with an integrated service that makes travel convenient. This integration implies, among other things, a unified fare structure integrating stations and stops of different modes so that transfers are seamless and convenient.
By building up the capacity of HCM City's existing institutions to handle urban transport management and operations, the project will pave the way for the eventual establishment of a unified Public Transport Authority that will co-ordinate strategy, services, and fares across all public transport modes.
The project will cost $137.45 million and be financed by an International Development Association credit equivalent to $124 million. The remaining amount ($13.45 million) will be provided by the Government.
The IDA credit will have a maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of five years, according to a press release from World Bank Viet Nam. — VNS