The river bus route covers 10.8 km from Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 to Linh Dong Station in Thu Duc district, passing through District 2 and Binh Thanh district.
Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper reported that passengers were mostly older people who wanted to see HCM City from a different perspective.
“It is exciting to enjoy the trip, feeling the breeze on the river while staying away from the traffic congestion,” said Nguyen Thi Lan, 65, from District 8.
Each river bus offers 75 seats; therefore, some people find it hard to get a ticket.
The whole trip takes about 45 minutes, including waiting time at three bus stops. However, as passengers need to wait more than two hours for the return river bus to depart, a lot of them opt for normal buses, taxis or motorcycle taxis.
Meanwhile, with the same route, bus No.19 takes just 25 minutes despite ten bus stops on the way.
In terms of pricing, travelling by river bus costs 900,000 VND (39.6 USD) per month, in comparison to 112,500 to 135,000 VND (5 – 6 USD) for 30 normal bus rides.
“Riding normal buses is cheaper and faster. I think river buses are only suitable for sightseeing, not going to work,” said Tran Van Binh from Thu Duc district.
According to a report issued by Daily Ldt. Company, the project’s investor, three river buses (including the backup one) serve about 1,000 passengers a day, which is a drop in the ocean compared to the 7.5 million motorbikes and 650,000 cars in the city.
Therefore, it is essential for the investor to evaluate the service’s impact to better arrange the timetable, number of tickets and availability of river buses.
Nguyen Van My, Director of Lua Viet Travel Agency, said that the river bus could not be considered a form of public transportation as it has poor traffic connections with other bus routes.
Conversely, river bus trips are not attractive to tourists as there are no tourism spots around the stations.
“To improve the service, besides the effort of investors, local authorities need to develop tourism along the river to improve the experience for passengers,” he said.
According to Phan Cong Bang, head of the Water Transportation Administration under HCM City Department of Transport, the department is assessing the project’s impact and passengers’ demands. Meanwhile, considering the investor’s financial capability, it is impossible to increase the number of river buses at the moment, he said.