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Current Public Transport Satisfies Less Than 10% of Saigon's Mobility Demand

The city is scrambling for ways to provide more and better public transportation options as traffic continues to worsen.

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee revealed at a conference on Monday that currently, only 9.2% of Saigoneers have their mobility needs met by buses and other mass transit options. They also said that the city has experienced a 3.2% increase in public transportation users, up to 411.7 million individual trips since the start of the year. 

To reach the goal of having public transportation serve 15-20% of the city's population by 2020, a target officials admit will be difficult to achieve, the city plans to increase the number of bus stations and routes. A US$4.1 billion infrastructure plan emphasized a commitment to increase public transportation effectiveness, in addition to improving technologies and building more roads to lessen traffic. As of August, the city has 137 bus routes, including 99 subsidized ones, that rely on a total of 2,322 buses. 

While public transportation needs are not being met, Saigoneers are increasingly turning away from the bus. In the first four months of the year, ridership dropped 8.2%. The HCMC Department of Transport gave five potential reasons for the drop, including old and badly maintained vehicles; increased costs; mismanagement; reduced number of routes; and the proliferation of ride-hailing services. At the same time, companies are showing no interest in advertising on buses, which decreases revenue for the system and creates a vicious cycle. 

In addition to increased car ownership and a growing population, the metro system (whenever it actually opens) will increase the need for an effective public transportation system that includes more public parking spaces. The city has seen a variety of ideas and proposals to improve the situation, including transitioning to ticket-less bus cards, e-bike rentals and smart parking lots.

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