HCM CITY — The number of passengers using HCM City's two inter-provincial bus stations for Tet (Lunar New Year) has begun to increase sharply since last weekend.
The Mien Dong (Eastbound) Bus Station received more than 30,000 passengers last Friday, up 40 per cent compared to a normal day, according to the station's management board.
The station has a bus leaving every five to 10 minutes to the southeastern, central and northern regions.
Thuong Thanh Hai, deputy director of the station, said last Thursday that the station still had plenty of tickets for Tet so passengers could select suitable travelling days.
The station had mobilised 200 buses to serve routes that have a high number of passengers such as those to central provinces of Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh, he said.
However, tickets of the most prestigious transport companies, whose buses travel from the city to destinations in the central and northern provinces, had been sold out.
Passengers prefer to buy tickets from prestigious transport companies because of higher service quality and reliability.
At the Mien Tay (Westbound) Bus Station that is the hub for travel by bus to the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region, tickets from prestigious transport companies are still available, according to the station management board.
The number of passengers travelling via the station is expected to increased by 10-15 per cent this Tet, with an estimated 58,000 set to use them during the five days before Tet.
With the increase in the number of passengers, inter-provincial buses have also increased the illegal practice of picking up passengers along National Highway 13, National Highway 1A and Ha Noi Highway.
Passengers who live near these highways have the habit of catching an inter-provincial coach along the highways without going to a bus station.
Le Van Tuan, head of the city Department of Transport's Transport Inspection Team No 5, said the city faced difficulties in inspecting the practice of coaches illegally picking up passengers because its area of jurisdiction stretched just 20km from the station to the Dong Nai Bridge where the city's border ends and that of Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces begin.
"The city has many industrial parks, export processing zones and universities so the number of workers returning home for Tet is very large. Many try to catch an inter-provincial coach at petrol stations or other spots," he said.
Meanwhile, inspection teams cannot penalise inter-provincial buses that park at petrol stations for picking up passengers because the stops are needed to wash, repair, or refuel.
The practice of illegally picking up and dropping off passengers is likely to increase on peak days before Tet – January 16-21.
To improve transport services for the festival, the Department of Transport had ordered strengthened inspections and stricter punishments for all violations, Tuan added. — VNS