|A bus at Hà Nội's Giáp Bát Station. Dozens of transport firms at the station reduced the number of coaches on routes from Hà Nội to Ninh Bình, Thái Bình and Nam Định provinces because their passenger numbers have dropped. Photo anninhthudo.vn|
HÀ NỘI Hundreds of inter-provincial passenger buses have cancelled their routes from key bus stations over the past three months due to competition from a new form of service.
They claim the illegal operation of ‘limousine services’ – a type of contract service car – is taking advantage of loopholes to pick up passengers along fixed routes and causing unhealthy competition.
The contract service cars, widely known as ‘limousines’ in Việt Nam, have become popular among passengers in recent years for their convenience and comfort. ‘Limousines’ are seven-seat buses which have been converted from 16-seat vehicles to create a more comfortable travel experience.
As regulated, these ‘limousines’ are allowed to operate when they have contracts with passengers, including the names of passengers and details of routes, pick-up and drop-off stops before the trip.
However, many are operating on fixed inter-provincial routes the same as buses. They gather near bus stations to illegally pick up passengers and sign contracts with them later.
Routes cut down
Last week, the city’s Department of Transport asked Hà Nội Bus Station JSC to stop operating more than 100 passenger buses. These buses had cancelled routes without informing the bus stations.
Hà Nội Bus Station JSC said in the peak months of December 2018 and January 2019, more than 300 passenger buses run by 66 transport enterprises cancelled more than 30 per cent of the routes they were registered to operate.
Nguyễn Tất Thành, director of Giáp Bát Bus Station, told An Ninh Thủ Đô (Capital Security) newspaper that about 120 buses belonging to 22 transport enterprises had stopped operation or only maintained between 20 and 40 per cent of total registered routes in the first three months of this year.
The routes between Hà Nội to Ninh Bình, Thái Bình and Nam Định provinces were among the routes with the fewest passengers.
Vũ Văn Tú, a representative of Ninh Bình Automobile JSC, said the company had registered 70 buses each day departing from Giáp Bát Bus Station to Ninh Bình Province.
However, the number of passengers only accounted for 30 per cent of capacity, so the company had been forced to cut the routes.
Tú said none of the enterprises wanted to cut back, but they could not maintain operations while suffering losses.
Trịnh Hoài Lam, deputy director of Nước Ngầm Bus Station, said only transport enterprises running the Hà Nội to Thái Bình and Nam Định routes had cancelled journeys.
More than 200 buses were cancelled in the first three months, he added.
Trần Văn Huế, a representative of Sao Vàng (Gold Star) Company, said the number of passengers had fallen drastically in the past two months.
On some routes, there were only two passengers.
On April 19, the bus departed with six passengers. The next day was even worse as there were no passengers, Huế said.
According to them, the illegal operation of limousine services was the main reason for the fall in passengers.
Huế said limousines operated illegally on every street corner around bus stations to pick up passengers.
“How can we compete with a service like this?” he said.
Director of Giáp Bát Bus Station Thành said the station had told transport enterprises to report any cancelled routes.
Thành agreed that cutting routes with few passengers was necessary.
Leaders of key bus stations said illegal limousine services needed to be stopped to create healthy competition and reduce traffic chaos in the city. VNS