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Saigon Aims to Have 75% of New Buses Run on Natural Gas by 2020

Compressed natural gas (CNG), which emits less pollution and is considered to be safer than gasoline or oil, was used by 428 buses in Saigon at the end of 2018.

According to a 2018-2020 investment plan for public buses from the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transportation, the department aims to use CNG to run 75% of its new buses, accounting for 657 buses in the city's fleet, Nguoi Lao Dong reports. If the plan goes smoothly, by the end of 2020, Saigon will have 1,009 buses running on the fuel.

However, accomplishing this objective is a challenge. Nguyen Van Thao, director of No.15 Transportation Cooperative, explains that while the investment cost for CNG-run buses is higher than diesel buses, government subsidy rate remains the same. Furthermore, the city only has four refueling stations for CNG, which causes a problem for buses that run on routes far from these stations. Bus companies and cooperatives are also worried that the price for the fuel will increase in the future.

Responding to these concerns, Tran Chi Trung, director of the HCMC Public Transport Management and Operation Center, said that the center has finalized the locations for 11 new CNG refueling stations as well as plans for moving and renovating four current CNG stations. 

To help alleviate operational costs, the center has also proposed that the city's transportation department waive entrance fees for CNG buses commuting to and from refueling stations. It also suggested that the People's Committee order gas companies to set out 36-72 million square meters of CNG to be priced at the same level of prices applied to electric supply companies in the same area.

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