Dozens of local and foreign experts attended a seminar held to discuss setting up of a rapid transit system using buses in HCM City.

Speaking at the event organised earlier this week by the city Department of Transport, the World Bank, and Agence Francaise de Dévelopment, delegates said to limit the use of private vehicles a Bus Rapid Transit system that can operate at higher speeds than ordinary buses and reduce air pollution is imperative.

It will also provide commuters rail-transit quality at the cost of bus transit, they said, adding the system can be set up by making improvements to existing infrastructure, vehicles, and scheduling.

The cost of developing a BRT is 5 million USD per kilometre and the system takes a maximum of five years to build compared to 40 million USD and 10 years for an underground system.

The city’s first metro project on the Ben Thanh- Suoi Tien route is projected to cost 1.1 billion USD and be finished in 2015.

It will carry 526,000 passengers a day.

The city plans to operate three underground and six skytrain routes to meet the burgeoning demand for public transport.

Le Van Dien, a senior official at the city’s Urban Railway Management, said a tramway system should be limit in the city rather than a BRT.

But Georg Puettner of the World Bank rejected the idea, saying the city should develop the metro and bus systems, not a tramway.

Also attending the seminar were officials from the HCM City Research and Planning Centre, an agency set up by the city together with its sister, Rhone Apples in France .

According to the Department of Transport, the city will have 4.5 million motorbikes on its roads by 2011, considerably worsening congestion.

Last year the city’s 3000 buses carried 3.2 million passengers, or just 7 percent of total commuters./.