Vietnam News

HCMC plans $17 billion boost to public transport

HCMC seeks to invest VND393 trillion ($16.93 billion) over the next decade in a master plan to improve access to public transport and limit the use of private vehicles.

Under the plan, which was rolled out on Monday, the city will have a comprehensive bus network by 2030, three metro lines — from downtown Ben Thanh to suburban Suoi Tien theme park, from Ben Thanh to Tham Luong in outlying District 12 and from Bay Hien Intersection in Tan Binh District to Saigon Bridge — and a bus rapid transit system.

Other items proposed are a light rail route between Thu Thiem, a new urban area in District 2, and Long Thanh in neighboring Dong Nai Province, where a new airport is being built, small buses with fewer than 17 seats, public electric motorbikes and bicycles, and dedicated bus lanes.

To control private vehicles, the city plans to collect toll from cars entering downtown.

Of the amount, VND47.6 trillion ($2.05 billion) would come from the city and the rest from the central government, private sources, and official development assistance (ODA), the city said.

The plan would start with improving public transport system before going on to control private vehicles.

In 2021-25 the focus will be on improving bus services, and in the next five years mass transit vehicles will receive top priority.

In order for the master plan to be efficacious, other solutions are also needed like amending urban planning to create a multi-center city to ease the pressure on the downtown area, create various revenue streams to support the development of public transport, carry out smart traffic projects, create more pedestrian zones in the city center, and stagger school and office schedules to avoid traffic congestion.

A city of 13 million including migrants, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s biggest city, had more than 8.1 million vehicles as of March, 763,000 of them cars and the rest, motorbikes.

For years the major means of public transport have been buses, but the public bus service is not well patronized.

This month the city scrapped three more bus routes, and is left with 129 out of the original 136.

The Department of Transport said buses on the three routes had failed to attract patrons and were thus making losses.

According to official data, 305 million passengers used public buses in 2012. But the city only targets 147 million this year.

In 2014-18 the number had dropped by 6.6 percent a year though it had spiked to 13 percent last year.

City officials have blamed it on the growing competition from ride-hailing services, which increased their numbers from just 20.6 million passengers in 2016 to 191 million last year.

Le Nguyen Minh Quang, a city legislator, had said at a meeting last year that the severe congestion on roads made bus services tardy, causing passengers to switch to other modes.

The city targets public transport to carry 15 percent of commuters of people by 2025 and 25 percent in 2030, up from just 9.2 percent now, according to the Department of Transport.

By Huu Cong – VnExpress.net – July 7, 2020

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