HCMC – The authority of HCMC has offered an additional VND141 billion in subsidies for operators of buses in 2019, aimed at helping them overcome the financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, said the municipal Transport Department on August 3.
Of the VND141 billion being reimbursed, some VND117 billion will be used to address the disparity in bus fares and VND24 billion for increasing salaries.
With this addition, the city’s subsidies for buses in 2019 have reached VND1.247 trillion.
The move is expected to encourage bus cooperatives and operators to cope with the hardships linked to the pandemic. In the first half of this year, bus operators had received an advance subsidy of some VND159 billion.
In July, the HCMC State Treasury announced a suspension of the advance subsidy, leaving bus operators facing difficulties as they could not pay employee salaries and owed fuel costs.
For this year, the city’s bus subsidies are expected to be VND1.15 trillion. However, the municipal Transport Department estimated that this amount would not be enough for bus operations and thereby suggested increasing the subsidy level by VND161 billion.
Data from the Transport Department indicated that the number of public bus commuters has taken a nosedive, dropping from 305 million in 2012 to 159 million last year.
The passenger volume continued its downward trend in the first half of this year as it reached a mere 39.6 million arrivals, meeting 62% of the target. As a result, the number of bus routes was reduced from 150 to 128, including 91 subsidized routes and 37 non-subsidized ones.
Meanwhile, bus subsidies have been increased over the past two years, from VND1.1 trillion in 2018 to VND1.2 trillion in 2019 and to an estimated VND1.3 trillion for 2020.
By Le Anh