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Saigon Finally Launches Advertising on City Buses

Saigon's city buses will soon be getting a makeover, as city officials have approved the sale of advertising space on public buses.

According to Vietnam News, the local People's Committee recently gave the go-ahead on a bus advertising proposal which is expected to bring in US$7.6 million a year.

The new advertising endeavor will begin with a year-long pilot program on 10 central routes, most of which connect with the downtown Ben Thanh bus station, before expanding to all bus routes across the city. Local authorities have approved the placement of advertising on bus doors and glass frames but have also stipulated that these adverts can't exceed 50% of the vehicle's exterior.

Though bus advertising is legal elsewhere in the country, including Hanoi, it has been prohibited in Saigon since 2002. Previously, city officials allowed the sale of bus advertising in 2007 but later changed their position in 2009.

Vietnam News reports the most recent request for bus advertising was submitted in 2014, however city officials actually approved a similar proposal in 2012. Even back then, it was predicted that the law would take time to come into effect, as its guidelines weren't yet clear.

“We are not yet to know what this would mean by allowing advertising on busses in HCMC because other cities like Hanoi, Can Tho and Da Nang do not have such a ban,” a local industry insider said at the time.

Regardless, the news has been met with positive feedback, as some were critical of the ban, including Nguyen Quy Cap, deputy head of the HCMC Advertising Association.

“Many advertising professionals, including me, do not find the ban justified,” Cap told Vietnam News. “City authorities claimed that bus advertising might distract drivers and cause traffic accidents. They were also concerned that the ads might be culturally inappropriate or offensive, particularly for kids.”

For its part, the city government will use advertising revenue from the buses to subsidize public transport, which carries 1.62 million passengers a day, according to Saigon's Department of Transport. Even so, public transportation currently meets less than 10% of the local need. Last year, Saigon officials approved plan to add 1,680 more buses by 2017, including 300 compressed gas buses, for a total of VND2.6 trillion.

[Photo via Campaign]

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