After several years of using eco-friendly compressed natural gas (CNG) to fuel some of its fleet, HCM City’s public bus system is now on the verge of a fuel shortage as the only supplier plans to reduce supply, Tuổi Trẻ newspaper has reported.
|A bus connecting HCM City National University and Le Hong Phong Street that uses eco-friendly compressed natural gas. Photo tuoitre.vn|
HCM City authorities have set a goal of replacing diesel-burning buses with CNG-fuelled ones to protect the environment.
CNG is mainly composed of methane and is popularly known as a cleaner fuel as it produces less in the way of harmful emissions.
By 2020, more than 3,100 new buses will be in operation, of which 75 per cent will be CNG vehicles.
At present, 428 of 2,457 of the city's public buses use the gas.
Despite the rising demand for CNG, PV Gas South Company is the only supplier for the whole city.
In late May, the company announced it would reduce by up to 30 per cent the CNG it supplied for public buses in the rest of 2019 to provide gas for electricity generation if requested by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
In case of a fuel cut, the company will notify city authorities only two hours in advance to adjust the public bus operation plan.
Previously, the company’s Dong Nai Province branch asked some public transport operators in HCM City to agree on a new price calculation, saying they would otherwise stop providing CNG. The city operators had no choice but to accept.
Responding to the announcement, HCM City Department of Transport said the reduction in CNG supply would disorganise the city's public transportation system and discourage investors who want to upgrade buses to CNG-burning ones.
Therefore, the department asked PV Gas to command PV Gas South Company to consider not reducing the CNG supply for HCM City’s public buses.
Cao Thanh Binh, deputy head of the Department of Economic Budget under the HCM City People’s Council, said the city needed to find two or three additional CNG suppliers to ease its dependence on PV Gas South Company.
According to the HCM City Public Transport Management Centre, PVGazProm wants to provide CNG starting next year.
In HCM City, CNG buses are fuelled at four stations in Tan Binh District, Binh Chanh District and District 12. The procedure is time-consuming, according to operators.
Many buses have to travel tens of kilometres off their usual routes to refuel, but the cost of travel is not subsidised.
Binh asked related departments and agencies to establish more CNG stations.
The public transport management centre plans to build 11 CNG stations, first at Cho Lon Bus Station, District 8, Tan Phu District and Cu Chi District.