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Hydrofoil firm resumes Vung Tau trips at half price
By Thanh Nien News -
 A hydrofoil firm has begun ferrying passengers between Ho Chi Minh City and the coastal resort town of Vung Tau at half price to celebrate the end of its year-long hiatus.
Bui Cong Trung, chairman of Vina Express, said his company resumed the service from HCMC’s Bach Dang Wharf at 7 am on Tuesday.
The vessel was only 40 percent full, news website Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon (Saigon Times) reported. Each hydrofoil can accommodate up to 128 passengers.
Trung said his firm will charge half price until Sunday, December 28, to lure more customers.
After that, prices will go back to VND200,000 (US$9.35) a ticket on weekdays and VND250,000 ($11.68) on weekends.
Trung said they put two hydrofoils back in service to make six trips each on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, the boats will take four trips per day.
Trung said he has spent tens of thousands of dollars upgrading the boats and equipping them with smart fire control systems including surveillance cameras.
His competitor from Quang Hung Company, also known as Petro Express, said they will put one hydrofoil back in service on January 1, and another soon after that.
The two companies are expected to have six hydrofoils available by the Lunar New Year (Tet), Vietnam’s biggest holiday which falls on February 19 of 2015.
At that point the hydrofoils will run from 6 am to 4:30 pm, offering ten to 12 trips a day.
The resumption of the hydrofoil service took place just three days after the HCMC-Dong Nai expressway opened new connections between the two towns on December 20.
The expressway will cut the distance from HCMC to Vung Tau from 120 to 95 kilometers, and cut bus travel time from 150 to 80 minutes with fares ranging between VND70,000 to VND199,000 depending the number of bus seats.
The HCMC municipal administration signed an agreement on Monday to allow the operation of hydrofoils that meet enhanced quality and safety requirements.
Hydrofoils once provided a popular means of transportation because they cut bus travel time down to around one hour.
The HCMC government halted the service in late January after a Vina Express boat caught fire some 15 minutes after departing from the city's downtown.
All 85 passengers managed to safely jump overboard after the captain piloted the vessel into shallow waters where the boat burned to cinders.

 Passengers go aboard the first hydrofoil voyage from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau on December 23 after the city lifted a ban on the service over a fire accident. Photo credit: TBKTSG