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Saigon Approves $142m Rapid Bus Line That Runs Along Vo Van Kiet

Will it happen?

VnExpress reports that the municipal government has approved Saigon's first bus rapid transit (BRT) line at a cost of US$142 million.

The route will span 26 kilometers along Vo Van Kiet and Mai Chi Tho boulevards from An Lac in Binh Tan District to the planned Rach Chiec Station in District 2, running through Binh Chanh District and districts 6, 5 and 1 along the way. This route is one of six BRT lines envisioned for Saigon, though it is unclear what stage the other planned routes are at.

Saigon Giai Phong adds that this price tag is US$12.4 million less than the initial US$155.9 million estimated costs for the project.

Once completed in 2023, the BRT would accommodate 42 buses able to carry over 60 passengers each running at up to 60 kilometers per hour. Importantly, the buses will run on compressed natural gas, instead of conventional fuel.

In fact, this is not the first time that a BRT system using Vo Van Kiet and Mai Chi Tho has been approved. The project was first proposed all the way back in 2014, and suspended in 2017 before any work was done due to the high cost and low projected ridership.

Hanoi has also struggled to establish a functioning BRT network. It has one operating line which debuted in 2016 but has struggled to reach passenger capacity and is also slower than anticipated since car and motorbike drivers often encroach on the dedicated bus lane.

Officials in the capital plan to build seven further lines, but experts have cautioned that they may face similar problems, and at a great cost.

[Photo via Giao Thong]