The HCM City Department of Transportation is mapping out a plan to replace more than half of its bus fleet with "greener" models.

Deputy Director of the department Duong Hong Thanh said nearly 3,200 buses are currently operating in the city, all of which were added to the fleet since 2003. About 1,300 of the vehicles meet the Euro 1 emissions standard, which is currently the most lenient European standard for nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other exhaust fumes.

"The quality of the city's 1,318 oldest buses has gradually reduced during their operation, and their life cycle will end between 2012 and 13. We need to replace them with newer, higher quality vehicles that have higher emissions standards and are more suitable for the size of the city's roads in the next few years," Thanh said.

This was just one of many measures included in the department's plan for comprehensive upgrades to the public transport network system by 2020. The plan will be submitted to the city for approval in June.

Thanh said the department has set a target to meet 40 percent of public transportation demand by 2025 with this new plan.

The plan calls for 42 bus routes to be re-drawn, 6 routes to be eliminated and 25 new and high-quality routes to attract more passengers. The plan aims to serve 1.8 million passengers daily after the new routes are designated, reaching 19.3 percent of the city's total transportation needs by 2015.

An evaluation of two years of studies indicated the plan has a good chance of overcoming bus system limitations in the first phase, Thanh said.

Currently, only 6 percent of the population uses buses as their primary means of transport. Nearly half of the city's buses have been downgraded and 20 percent must park in private lots or park illegally due to a land shortage for parking area construction.

The plan will also create favourable conditions for attracting investment from enterprises and co-operatives to supplement city funds./.