Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) – The HCM City Department of Transport plans to issue electronic ticket cards on all bus routes next year in an aim to improve passenger convenience and management of the bus system.

The build-own-operate project for the smart ticket system for public transport has a total investment of 321.1 billion VND (14.3 million USD), approved by the municipal People’s Committee.

The three-year project, which began last year, will allow passengers to pay ticket fares online each month or for the entire year.

Khuat Viet Hung, Deputy Chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee, said that the implementation of electronic ticket systems in public passenger transport would create conveniences for passengers.

An information technology revamp will prevent misuse of subsidy policies, Hung said at a conference held recently.

Although subsidies for bus operators have remained stable, the number of bus passengers has fallen sharply, according to the city’s Public Transport Management and Operation Centre.

The city spent 1.24 trillion VND (56 million USD) and 1.28 trillion VND (58 million USD) on bus subsidies in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Last year, the number of bus passengers reached 334.5 million compared to 367 million in 2014 and 413 million in 2013.

In the first quarter of the year, the number of bus passengers totalled 135 million, a year-on-year decrease of 5.6 percent.

The city has 136 bus routes, including 105 subsidised routes, with more than 2,780 buses operating.

It began subsidies for bus operation in 2002 with 97 subsidised routes.

Professor Nguyen Thi Canh of the HCM City University of Economics and Law said that the city should change the method of subsidies to improve the effectiveness of bus operations.

The city should spend subsidies on bus fares with bus smart cards instead of covering operating costs for bus operators, Canh said.

The city should also assess the demand of commuters on specific routes to provide appropriate subsidies, she said.

Infrastructure for buses should be upgraded and motorbikes banned in the city centre, she added.

Earning from advertising on buses will be used to invest in infrastructure for bus routes, bus stops and maps.

The city’s Department of Transport targets serving 1.035 million passengers by 2020, equivalent to 15 percent of demand from commuters.

The department said that it would take steps to improve the quality of bus services and the application of information technology.

It plans to replace 1,500 old buses with new ones by the end of next year.-VNA