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Saigon to Expand Smart Card Payment Trial to 8 More Bus Routes

On March 8, Ho Chi Minh City inaugurated a pilot program for smart bus cards.

The pilot program was conducted on bus route 86, which goes from Ben Thanh Bus Station to Ton Duc Thang University in District 7 to Long Kien Bridge in Nha Be District. Some riders, especially students, are adapting well to the new ways to pay.

"Ever since I switched to the smart bus card, it's very convenient for me to just put money in the account first and use them up later. I also get less scolding from bus conductors for not bringing small changes to pay for the ticket," a university student from Ton Duc Thang told Giao Thong.

Still, more than one month into the pilot program, the new smart bus card system is struggling to attract users. According to Tran Chi Trung, director of the HCMC Public Transport Management Center, out of 500 bus goers that have registered for the smart card system, only 100 of them are being used, Giao Thong reports.

The smart ticket system, named UniPass, employs two payment methods. One is a near-field communication (NFC) card that allows commuters to deposit money into their UniPass account beforehand and pay by swiping the NFC card on the bus. The second method is done through a smartphone app — users receive a QR code and pay for bus tickets by scanning the QR code on their phone.

Although Bus 86's main ridership is students, many young bus goers and the bus drivers themselves might need more time to adjust to the system. The new method has a learning curve for older passengers as well, according to the news source.

In April and May this year, the HCMC Public Transport Management Center will apply the new payment modes on eight more bus routes including 50, 52, 55, 30, 93, 59, 68, 69 and 141.

[Photo via Giao Thong]

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