HÀ NỘI — As Tết draw near, millions of Vietnamese are packing to leave for their home villages, putting public and private transport under great pressure. Tickets have been said to have doubled, even tripled on busy routes. And there have been the usual reports of ticket hoarding and black-marketing in big cities such as Hà Nội and HCM City.
Railway ticket sales for Tết began in mid-October last year when more than 300,000 return tickets were made available. Sixty additional cars, the equivalent of 10,000 seats, have now been added to the country’s train fleet by Việt Nam’s major rail companies.
The Saigon Railway Transport Company, still has tickets available for trains going North up until February 14. For the return route from Hà Nội to the central and southern provinces, there are nearly 43,300 tickets still available from February 19 to March 3 (first days of the lunar new year).
Đỗ Quang Văn, director of the company, told Việt Nam News that, on average, the price of train tickets this Tết was about three per cent higher compared to last year, depending on the route and type of trains.
Buses - public, private and unauthoried - still remain one of the more popular means of transport during the holidays for their route flexibility.
HCM City’s transport department insists there are still a large number of bus tickets available from established companies, even though, since last year, they have been permitted to sell them at 20-60 per cent above normal prices during the holiday season.
However, a report from the southern city indicated that most tickets have been sold. What are still available throughout the nation are tickets from unauthoried bus companies who ply their own routes and sell their own tickets at even more inflated prices.
To justify the price increases on regular bus lines during the holiday season, transport companies said they often made losses on return routes. “Our buses often have to return with almost no passengers. We have to make up for it somehow,” said a representatives from a Hà Nội based bus company.
Late travellers often resort to buying tickets on the black market at inflated prices. These come in two categories - those issued by lesser-known or even shady transport companies unregistered with transport authorities, and those sold by hoarders.
HCM City’s Transport Department recommended that bus passengers buy tickets at the Eastern Region and Western Region bus stations and call hotlines of the bus stations to check for ticket availability. — VNS