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Natural gas buses taken off road because uneconomical

Update: May, 18/2010 - 09:24

Most of the 3,200 buses operating in HCM City run on petrol. Two buses that use CNG will no longer operate because there are not enough buses using CNG to make it economical for the gas company to supply the fuel. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan

Most of the 3,200 buses operating in HCM City run on petrol. Two buses that use CNG will no longer operate because there are not enough buses using CNG to make it economical for the gas company to supply the fuel. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan

HCM CITY — The city's two buses that run on compressed natural gas will have to stop operating temporarily because the gas supplier has decided to stop selling fuel to the bus station.

Only one company, the Southern Liquid Gas Trade JSC, supplies the route between District 6 and Thu Duc District.

"The company told us to stop operation of the station since it needs 50 stops a day by buses to ensure profit," said Phung Dang Hai, chairman of HCM City Union of Transport Co-operatives.

The company runs two main outlets in Vung Tau City and 15 retailer stations, with one in HCM City's Tan Binh District.

"The station will stop operating next month if we do not add more CNG-fueled buses," Hai told the Sai Gon Tiep Thi (Sai Gon Marketing) newspaper. "That means we're going to set the buses aside."

A CNG-fueled bus costs VND2 billion (US$0.1 million) while the same bus run by diesel costs only VND1.1 billion.

Hai said the city had not developed a policy to provide financial support to the union so it could buy green buses.

Associate Professor Dr Pham Xuan Mai, dean of HCM City Polytechnic University's traffic technology faculty, said the cost for switching from a diesel to CNG fuelled-bus was $25,000.

The cost for 10,000 CNG buses in HCM City would be $250 million, he said. Each CNG bus could save about $8,000 a year.

"Operating 10,000 CNG buses over three years would cover the cost," Mai told Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper.

Earlier, the gas supplier and the union had reached an agreement on the price of CNG, with one tonne of CNG costing 40 per cent lower than the market cost of one tonne of diesel.

The two CNG buses began running on May 6. "CNG buses run with a silent engine, no exhaust gas and help us cut costs," Hai said. — VNS

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