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Vietnam Building Rapid Bus System in Ho Chi Minh City


An aerial view of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2012. (REUTERS/Kham)
Vietnam Building Rapid Bus System in Ho Chi Minh City
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Ho Chi Minh City is building a bus rapid transport system in hopes of making public travel simpler.

Vietnamese people have many transportation choices. They use personal cars, and visitors to the country might pay for a bicycle-based vehicle. The company GoDee offers a car transport service, similar to Uber. GoDee also offers people a low-cost way to share a ride in bigger vehicles like vans.

The Vietnamese government wants people to use more public transportation. However, building projects for underground train systems in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have had repeated delays. Traditional buses are slow and unpredictable.

The new bus system for Ho Chi Minh City would create special lanes for electric bus use only. The buses are expected to save time by limiting traffic and operating more often than traditional buses. Vietnamese officials say the new system would reduce traffic and pollution. They did not say when it might open, however.

The new system is expected to cost about $137 million. Some observers say they are not sure the city can support that cost.

Switzerland is helping to pay part of the project’s cost. “The project will demonstrate considerable economic, environmental and social benefits,” said Ivo Sieber, Switzerland's ambassador-designate to Vietnam.

Tech and public transport

City planners around the world are trying to improve public transportation to reduce traffic and pollution while staying within a budget. Shanghai, China and Singapore have tried “on-demand buses,” for example. The system lets riders use an app on their phone to communicate their transport needs. Then a travel path is created to transport as many people as possible most efficiently.

New, small technology companies have begun to enter the field, increasing data collection. City planners use the data to examine traffic patterns and choose the best transportation methods.

Uber, when it operated in Vietnam, said it would work with city planners to examine this kind of data. Grab bought Uber’s Vietnam business in 2018. Critics say that business has worsened traffic in Vietnam and other places because more people are hiring private rides instead of taking public transportation.

The World Bank also is helping to pay for the new bus rapid transport system in Ho Chi Minh City. In a press release, the World Bank office in Hanoi said the system would improve movement around the city, giving riders more choices. This includes mixing rapid and traditional buses, private rides and an underground train, or subway.

Last year, the city's population was reported to be almost 9 million. That is an increase of 1.8 million since 2009. However, the number of city roads has not changed.

City officials have not given details on how they will spend the $137 million. But they say it will be used to buy electric buses and to build bus-only lanes that will include street lights and cameras. The money also will be used to train transportation officials.

I’m Caty Weaver.

VOA News reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

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Words in This Story

rapid –adj. moving quickly

lane –n. a part of a road that is marked and meant for a single line of vehicles

benefit –n. a good result

pattern –n. something that happens in a regular, repeated or natural way

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