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|Transport companies shrink operations as passenger demand drops from the COVID-19 epidemic|
On March 11, at Nuoc Ngam Bus Station in Hanoi, there were only two passengers waiting for the Hoang Long Bus to Haiphong. Driver Nguyen Xuan Dung said that they used to have a bus every 30 minutes, but now they leave once an hour with very few passengers. He said both the number of trips and passengers reduced by about half.
Driver Nguyen Van Thuy at An Phu Quy Bus, who plies the route from Hanoi to Vinh Town in the central province of Nghe An, said the number of daily passengers has dropped by up to 40 per cent since the first novel coronavirus case was confirmed in the capital on March 6. The company now operates only 10-12 daily trips, compared to the 20 before.
Other routes from Hanoi are facing a similar plight. Do Van Bang, director of Sao Viet Bus, said that the number of passengers has fallen by 70 per cent from before the COVID-19 epidemic and is now down 40 per cent since February.
The company only runs 10 buses a day from Hanoi to the northern province of Lao Cai, compared to the 30 before the epidemic, he said. "Even with this, we've had to cancel several trips or drive with just a few passengers."
Trinh Hoai Nam, deputy director of Nuoc Ngam Bus Station, said that the number of active buses has fallen from 500 to 340 a day since the first confirmed case in the city. Most companies have cut trips down by 30-50 per cent from the city to other northern localities.
In a talk with Vnexpress.net , Nguyen Anh Toan, director of Hanoi Transport Station JSC which operates four bus stations in the city, said that the latest developments in the novel coronavirus epidemic have resulted in fewer passengers than in February.
All major bus stations – My Dinh, Giap Bat, and Yen Nghia – have seen customer numbers drop by 30-40 per cent from before the epidemic.
Since March 6 to early March 14, seven cased tested positive for COVID-19, most of whom travelled on flight VN0054 or family members, as well as some visitors. Hanoi has locked down a street and an alley to contain the disease, and is preparing 1,000 hospital beds in case the virus spreads further.
48 cases have tested positive for COVID-19, 16 of whom have been cured while the 32 remaining cases have been detected since March 6.