Trams will begin plying the streets of Ho Chi Minh City at the end of 2009 if everything goes according to plan.
Mr. Le Hong Ha, deputy chief of the city’s Urban Metro Preparation Unit, says construction of the tramway between Thu Thiem Ferry Station in the middle of town and Mien Tay Bus Station in Binh Thanh District should begin in early 2008.
Transport Engineering Design Incorporated South (Tedi South) reckons it can build the line on the existing roads and vacant land and won’t need to clear any buildings or other structures.
The trams will be supplied by French manufacturer Lohr Industry, which will arrange finance for the 100-million-euro project from the French government in return for getting the supply contract.
Mr. Ha’s hope is that the trams will carry enough commuters to ease the traffic congestion between Binh Thanh and the city center.
Not only streetcars are in the pipeline. Mr. Ha says the Japanese government sponsored project for building a railway line between Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and Suoi Tien Park in Thu Duc has been approved, and the first trains should be running by 2014.
Public transport in Ho Chi Minh City is limited to just over 5,000 commuter buses at present, barely sufficient to carry five percent of the regular urban travelers. With trams and trains to share the load, the strain on the city’s roads should be reduced somewhat.