HCMC has no way to deal with illicit bus stations

The National Traffic Safety Committee and the Ministry of Transport have organized two seminars recently but yet to decide how to tackle unlicensed bus stations, which have operated for four decades in Ho Chi Minh City.

A coach on Tra Vinh Province-Mien Tay Bus Station route plies for hire in Tran Phu Street, District 5, HCMC (Photo: SGGP)

At first, only some single coaches sneakily picked passengers up outside bus stations. Now many renowned transport firms have also used these stations.

Travelers to the Central Highlands city of Da Lat can get bus tickets of Thanh Buoi Company station in Le Hong Phong Street, District 10 and wait there for buses to pick them up.

According to regulations, transport firms can open ticket selling outlets inner HCMC but must use small buses to carry passengers to stations before starting their journey to other provinces. However, many companies have just sent their coaches to collect passengers directly from various spots in the center areas.

The HCMC Transport Department has applied several measures to cope with the issue. For instance, traffic inspectors penalize violators or sequester their vehicles if they pick up or drop off passengers at unpermitted places. It has also allowed buses to ply for hire at industrial zones and student dormitories during peak time such as Tet holiday.

However it has been unable to tackle the issue and recently had a policy to legalize some spontaneous stations.

Last August, the department instructed interprovincial bus stations Mien Dong and Mien Tay together with some transport firms to do survey of possible places to pick up and drop off passengers. Many of them were unlicensed stations.

Chairman of the HCMC Interprovincial and Tourist Bus Association Le Trung Tinh said that they had located some possible spots and proposed the Department of Transport to legalize them. However the department has yet to make any respond.

The problem was that many places under the proposal are not listed in urban and transport system development plans, an official from the department told Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper.

A Ministry of Transport leader revealed that many provinces and cities have also faced with the same issue.

On the other hand, the policy of permitting coaches to pick up passengers at places outside legal stations has also caused disagreement from other agencies.

If interprovincial coaches are also eligible to receive passengers in the city center, it will negatively affect pubic and urban order, according to a Department of Architecture and Planning leader who is member of the HCMC Planning Association.

Therefore, these coaches should operate at stations that have been built under the city plan, he added.

Many years ago, HCMC had a policy to call on social resources for the construction of planned bus stations. However, it has found hard to find out suitable locations in such a crowded city.

Transport firms have proposed some spacious areas for the purpose but they do not suit the plan while traffic-advantageous places are not easy to be cleared with dense population.

Even the state-own Saigon Transportation Mechanical Corporation (SAMCO) has also been unable to build new Mien Dong and Mien Tay bus stations as schedule for the last ten years due to compensation and site clearance problems.

By Nguyen Khoa – Translated by Hai Mien

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