Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Illegal bus stations and unlicensed buses ferrying passengers to other provinces continue to operate brazenly in HCM City despite authorities’ efforts.
While the city Department of Transport claims the number of illegal stations has been reduced from 150 to 36, around Miền Đông (Eastern) Bus Station alone more than 50 operate illegally, with 400 buses and 10,000 passengers every day.
In downtown streets like Nguyễn Thái Bình and Phó Đức Chính in District 1, Mai Chí Thọ in District 2, Lê Hồng Phong, Trần Nhân Tôn, Trần Phú, and Vĩnh Viễn in District 5, unlicensed buses collect and drop off passengers during peak hours.
Hoàng Văn Thái, a resident of Trần Phú Street in District 5, complained that dozens of buses constantly park on his street, causing chaos.
“Illegal stations and unlicensed transport firms have created an unhealthy business environment, causing customers to suffer,” Trần Bảo Ngọc, head of the central Department of Transport, was quoted as saying by the Government’s website.
The illegal stations and unlicensed firms cause disorder on the streets and traffic congestion and losses to the exchequer.
In February the city ordered the installation of "no parking" signs for vehicles with nine seats or more on Nguyễn Thái Bình and Lê Thị Hồng Gấm streets. But buses reportedly ignore the signs.
Trần Thanh, director of Toàn Thắng Transport Company, which has a stop on Nguyễn Thái Bình street, complained at a recent seminar that his company operates buses on fixed routes from the Miền Tây (Western) and Miền Đông (Eastern) bus stations to the southern province of Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu.
But there are usually only two to three passengers at the stations, while the number in the city centre is huge -- 5,000-6,000 a day – according to Thanh.
The city prohibits buses from picking up passengers on the street, but has not designated pick-up areas, causing difficulties for both businesses and passengers.
Bùi Xuân Cường, director of the city transport department, said it was clearly regulated what kind of buses must go to inter-provincial bus stations.
“The problem has become serious as unlicensed bus operators are posing as travel offices and ticket agents. Others pretend to sign tourism contracts to avoid going to bus stations,” he said.
Văn Công Điềm, deputy general director of Phương Trang Transport and Tourism JSC company, said: “Unlicensed buses now have their own booking switchboards and websites to sell tickets in advance. They don’t go to official stations, don’t pay fees, don’t pay taxes and pose unfair competition to those who follow the laws.”
Transport companies have asked local authorities to set up a task force to check and fine all unlicensed transport companies and illegal bus stations.
They urged the transport department to review all route management data from GPS devices installed in all buses.
The Ministry of Transport should review and create a legal framework to prevent unlicensed operators, they said.
Nguyễn Văn Mỹ, director of Lửa Việt Tourism company, said: “The city should build more transit stations for passengers’ convenience.
“Service quality and fees at official stations should be improved to attract more buses.”
Thượng Thanh Hải, deputy director of the Miền Đông (Eastern) Bus Station, said: “Using IT to manage transportation, increasing fines and cancelling driving and route licences of those who violate laws are required.”
Deputy Minister of Transport Lê Đình Thọ said: “HCM City has bus stations in four directions, so the city needs a comprehensive plan to properly connect routes and make it convenient for passengers.
“Local authorities can grant licences to major transport companies for setting up way stations.” — VNS