Last update: 06:30 | 08/12/2017
HCM City’s waterway buses have already transported thousands of passengers in the ten days since beginning services.
Waterway bus on Sai Gon River in HCM City
The yellow boats, which leave the wharf at around 7.30 am, are fully equipped with air-conditioner, fire protection equipment and life jackets and boats. Each boat can carry 80 passengers. There are four boats working daily and one reserve boat.
Many people were eager to experience their first waterway trips in the city's centre, seeing the parks and enjoying the cool air in the early morning. Thomas Lindelof, a German visitor, said he travelled on boats in the Mekong Delta and Ha Long Bay but this was the first time he went somewhere by boat in HCM City. He went on to say that Saigon River was wide and he enjoyed the contrast between urban and rural scene along the way.
Tran Thi Huong, a local in Thu Duc District, said it usually took her an hour to travel from Thu Duc District to District 1 because of constant congestion. The waterway bus is safer, faster and more convenient as she can sight-see and enjoy the fresh air.
According to Captain Do Thanh Liem, each boat makes six trips, working from 7.30 am to 6 pm. "The toughest difficulty is wading through duckweed and litter on the water which can disable the boat propellers," he said.
Nguyen Kim Toan, director of Thuong Nhat Company, the project's investor, said, "We were determined to pursue this project for years because we realised that the roads are overloaded while waterway transportation is being wasted."
The Department of Transport also proposed to open electric bus routes to carry river bus passengers to hotels and major attractions in the city such as Ben Thanh Market or New World Hotel.
Five out of 12 stations have been opened for the waterway route 1 including Bach Dang, Binh An, Thanh Da, Hiep Binh Chanh and Linh Dong. Bach Dang Wharf, covering 5,000 square metres, is being repaired with new waiting rooms, parking lot and restaurants.
According to Director of Department of Transport Bui Xuan Cuong, the authorities will work with investors to open a 10km-long waterway route 2 that connects District 1 and 8. It is hoped that the waterway buses will help diversify transport options, reduce congestion and boost waterway tourism.