HCMC seeks to develop an electric bus system | Ho Chi Minh City

An electric bus on trial at HCMC. — Photo VNA/VNS

The development of electric vehicles is an inevitable trend to achieve environmental goals under the city’s green traffic development project, according to the department.

Tran Quang Lam, director of the department, said the city plans to build six BRT routes with a total length of about 100 km.

Funded by the World Bank (WB), the green traffic development project includes the construction of a 23 km long BRT main corridor. The corridor will run from An Lac intersection in Binh Tan district to Rach Chiec bridge in Thu Duc city.

For the past 10 years, the city has had compressed natural gas (CNG) buses accounting for approximately 20% of the total number of vehicles on the road.

To achieve its sustainable growth targets by 2030, it would need to have appropriate vehicles in place for the BRT route as well as the city’s public transport system in general, he said.

The BRT No. 1 project originally planned to use CNG buses on the road.

The department consulted scientists and experts from the World Bank to advise the selection of vehicles for this project.

World Bank expert Shige Sakaki said electric buses have become a viable option as they have been used in many countries.

Apart from reduced noise and toxic emissions compared to diesel buses, the operation and maintenance of electric buses are also cheaper.

However, the development of electric buses still has some limitations such as high production costs and a lack of infrastructure for charging stations and maintenance workshops, according to the department.

The city has piloted two electric bus lines, using 12-seater minibuses, in wards 1 and 7 since 2017.

The first 29 km electric bus line called D4 was launched in March, connecting Vinhomes Grand Park urban area in Thu Duc city to Sai Gon bus station in District 1.

The city has also authorized the use of electric vehicles with less than 15 seats in the Can Gio district to take tourists to hotels and tourist sites.

In 2020, the city administration approved a 400 trillion VND ($17.3 billion) project to improve access to public transport and limit the use of personal vehicles over the next decade.

The focus will be on developing the bus network, including improving inter-provincial connectivity.

Under the project, public transport would meet 15% of residents’ travel demand by 2025 and 25% by 2030.

By 2025, the city aims for the bus system to connect new urban areas, industrial parks, satellite urban areas and passenger transport routes.

To improve bus services and increase ridership, the ministry should open public tenders for bus routes.

As many as 50 to 60 new routes are expected to start by 2025, rising to around 75 by 2030, and the number of buses would double over the next 10 years, he said.

Priority will be given to vehicles using clean and environmentally friendly fuels such as CNG, LPG and electricity.

The quality of human resources operating buses will be improved and the management and operation of public transport systems will be modernized.

By 2025, the bus network would be expanded from 126 routes with 2,100 buses to 260 routes with 3,000 buses.

Every year, the city provides subsidies of 1 trillion VND ($43 million) to bus companies.

A new inter-provincial bus line linking HCMC and Long An and Tien Giang provinces officially opened on August 10.