|Compressed natural gas (CNG) powered buses are operating on the Ben Thanh Market – Cho Lon Station route in HCM City. The city People's Committee has approved a programme to manufacture 300 CNG buses over the next year. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
HCM CITY (VNS) — The HCM City People's Committee has approved a programme to manufacture 300 buses powered by compressed natural gas over the next year.
The Sai Gon Transportation Mechanical Corporation (SAMCO) will make the CNG busses at a total cost of VND130 billion (US$6.1 million) to gradually replace old fossil-fuel- powered buses in the city.
CNG engines emit 53 per cent less toxic fumes and cost 30-40 per cent less to operate, according to the city Department of Transport.
In April, SAMCO successfully produced the first CNG bus.
More than a year ago, the People's Committee had given the green light to the Sai Gon Passenger Transport Company to import 50 CNG buses.
The company has bought 21 and operates them on the Ben Thanh Market – Cho Lon Bus Station route.
The HCM City Bus Co-operative Alliance has also imported seven CNG buses and also operates them in the city's main areas.
Phung Dang Hai, general director of the HCM City Bus Co-operative Alliance, said the buses have been welcomed by passengers and always run full.
City authorities have been researching and developing a plan for operating public buses in 2012-15, according to the Department of Transport.
The plan envisages buying 1,680 new buses – not CNG — by providing transport companies soft loans worth up to 70 per cent of the cost of the buses. The loans will carry an interest rate of 5 per cent and a term of seven years.
If the People's Committee approves the financial support, the city will provide interest-rate subsidies of around VND100 billion ($4.8 million) a year.
Experts have said the city can allow advertising on buses to reduce the subsidy burden. — VNS