The number of people using public buses in HCM City has fallen sharply because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hitting operators hard. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Diệp
HCM CITY — The HCM City Department of Transport has asked the People’s Committee to approve an additional subsidy of VNĐ161 billion (US$6.9 million) for public bus operators this year.
This will increase the subsidies to VNĐ1.311 trillion ($56.4 million) this year.
Nguyễn Đức Trị, deputy head of the department’s Public Transportation Management Centre, said the number of people using public buses in the city has declined sharply this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Between February 3 and March 31, 20-70 per cent of bus services on the city’s 94 routes were cancelled, while all buses were off the road between April 1 and May 3.
Operations resumed after the social distancing campaign ended, though with the number trips reduced and a limit on the number of passengers in a bus.
From May 11 to 24, for instance, buses transported 3.9 million passengers on more than 169,000 trips, decreases of 39 per cent and 23 per cent respectively from the same period last year.
Demand is expected to return to normal in July and the number of trips on each route would be adjusted to meet demand, Trị said.
The rapid growth of app-based ride hailing services like Grab and GoViet has created tough competition for public transport.
People prefer these, especially for short trips, because of the convenience they offer.
For long the city has been trying to expand public transport and persuade more people to use it.
It provides subsidies of more than VNĐ1 trillion ($43 million) to transport companies annually, but the number of passengers has been falling consistently though fares remain very low.
In 2014-18 they declined by 6.6 per cent a year on average.
Public buses only carried 255 million passengers last year, a drop of 12.1 per cent from 2018. — VNS