Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho check passengers' belt fastening on coach (Photo: VietnamPlus)

 

Hanoi (VNA) - Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho has stressed that leaders of bus stations should not make it hard for people to return to their native villages to welcome the Lunar New Year (Tet).

As the number of passengers returning home will peak during the Lunar New Year festival, Tho asked leaders of bus stations to not make it hard for passengers to access vehicles, and they must hold responsibility for bringing the last passenger home for Tet.

Focus on checking drug-addicted drivers

Inspecting transportation services for Tet together with a working delegation from the National Committee for Traffic Safety (NCTS), Tho lauded Hanoi’s bus stations for ensuring sufficient buses and frequency to meet people’s demand for transportation. He urged them to give top priority to safety, with strict procedures for buses departing from stations, while cutting red tape for transport companies.

“Transport enterprises and bus stations need to use loudspeakers to remind passengers to fasten their seat belts because it is the matter of life for each passenger”, Tho directed.

He suggested that when any driver was found to drink alcoholic beverages in excess or use illicit drugs, firms should assign another one to continue the journey. Apart from disciplining drivers, bus stations should work with firms to deal with the issue.

“As several serious traffic accidents have recently occurred, the Prime Minister directed measures to curb them, so units concerned should take drastic actions and work closely with local authorities and inter-sectoral units in the effort”,  he said.

Urging Hanoi authorities to check all drivers for alcohol and drugs in and out bus stations, NCTS Vice Chairman Khuat Viet Hung said meth-addicted drivers easily lose control so units should check at the departure point or on the way.

At My Dinh bus station, for example, a driver was recently found to use drugs before departure.

Hung also requested checking the transportation of banned goods. Recently in Ho Chi Minh City, a bus operator sabotaged its rival by placing banned goods on one of their buses and reporting it to the police.

He noted that when looking after motorbikes and automobiles, firms must remove their fuel to prevent fires, citing an accident in Binh Thuan for example, in which motorbikes were kept in the bus’s storage cabin, and when a crash happened, a fire broke out, leaving 13 dead.

Tracing cause of overpriced fares, keeping “virtual bus departure” list

During the inspection, leaders of agencies discussed the reasons for rising fares and suggested measures to keep prices within a certain range.

Ly Truong Son, Director of the My Dinh Bus Station, said in recent days, the number of passengers flocking there has risen 1.5-2 fold compared to weekdays, amounting to 18,000-20,000 during the  Lunar New Year festival. The station ordered 62 coaches to drop some passengers off because of overload.

Nguyen Anh Toan, Director of the Hanoi Bus Station JSC, said the company has received applications for fare hikes, including from 18 major bus operators in the Giap Bat bus station that mostly run the Da Nang route with a 50 percent hike and Thanh Hoa at 20-40 percent. The Gia Lam bus station recorded two units that increased fare prices. No firms in Hanoi have hiked fares, he said.

Nguyen Van Lap, Director of the Nuoc Ngam Bus Station, said the station is home to 169 bus operators with 94 routes, with 935 departures but only 593 departures are valid. The station asked the Transport Department to stop the operation of regulation violating firms.

"The number of vehicles leaving the station is 550 per day, or 20,000 passengers returning home for Tet each day. On January 30 evening, the station deployed an extra 16 coaches to drive passengers home”, Lap said.

He said 42 bus operators had increased their prices and surcharges by 14-61 percent, in accordance with the city’s regulations.

"When discovering firms that violate ticket pricing regulations, the station strictly punished them. Up to 30 bus operators were disciplined for raising ticket prices before the Lunar New Year," Lap said.

Coach operators must take out all fuels in vehicles when transporting motorbikes (Photo: VietnamPlus)
 

Phan Thi Thu Hien, Deputy Director of the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam, said two days ago, the hotline of the Directorate received news about fare hikes in bus stations.

"After adjusting routes in Hanoi, 37 percent of coaches were inactive, in fact, to keep departure list, making it easier for unlicensed ones to run,” Hien said.

Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho said fare hikes should be within a range. Due to empty coaches, the municipal Hanoi Department of Transport agreed to raise subsidies to 60-70 percent. The ministry asked transportation units to keep price hikes at a maximum of 10-20 percent.

"How could empty coaches be eligible for subsidy up to 70 percent? The department should clarify this issue, find out the reason, not to fish in troubled waters to raise fare prices during the New Year. Despite profitability in just a few days, bus operators work throughout the year so this needs to be reconsidered,” Tho said.

The Deputy Minister also asked the municipal Department of Transport to stop inactive bus departures because this will enable the use of unlicensed coaches. The ministry will review Circular No.152 on fare prices. Coaches that are inactive for 60 days will be cut off and announced publicly.

Vu Ha, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Transport, said the department will check "virtual bus departures," and if this does not work, routes will be cut and announced publicly.-VNA