As many as 35 different suggestions to tackle traffic congestion in Ho Chi Minh City were put forward at a meeting on Friday, attracting debates and arguments from around 50 local scientists, experts and officials.
The proposed solutions fall into two categories, with 19 strategies aiming to develop and expand the municipal public transportation system, and the other 16 focusing on curbing personal vehicles in the southern metropolis.
The ‘public transportation’ group includes such suggestions as deploying buses that run on eco-friendly fuel, providing more buses that can accommodate wheel-chair users, or adding more 16-seat mini-buses to the city’s fleet. Experts have backed the mini-bus idea, saying this kind of vehicle is more suitable to the small and often over-crowded streets in Ho Chi Minh City.
Other experts also proposed developing lanes exclusively dedicated to buses, instead of having them run on the same lanes with other vehicles.
Another proposition is to build a railway connecting the city’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport with the Long Thanh International Airport in the adjacent Dong Nai Province, which is expected to be completed by 2025.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities are also slated to launch two river bus routes Binh Quoi – Bach Dang, and Bach Dang – Lo Gom, in the near future.
Curbing personal vehicles
On the other hand, experts also said the root of the problem is personal vehicles, so the solutions should focus on this type of vehicle.
To this end, experts proposed imposing fees on all cars getting in and out of Ho Chi Minh City, or limiting the number of motorbikes and cars which can be registered to run for Uber or Grab, the two app-based taxi services.
Many experts also favored a solution to penalize vehicles which have reached their expiration date and are thus no longer roadworthy.
The city could also earmark money from its budget to buy old or expired motorbikes in order to reduce of the number of unroadworthy motorbikes on the street, Dr. Luong Hoai Nam suggested.
Dr. Pham Xuan Mai, dean of the Transportation Technique Department of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, estimated that the city should have 21,000 buses if it plans to ban motorbikes by 2030.
Given the current fleet of public bus of only 2,000 units, Mai said the municipal government should seek more funding in order to reach that goal.
Du Phuoc Tan, from the Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies, said each neighborhoods of the city should implement different solutions to curb traffic problem, especially the 37 congestion hotspots that plague the city residents for years.
To ensure that the solutions and suggestions fit the needs of local residents, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport will carry a survey on approximately 30,000 people in the city.
The survey began at the start of July and aims to gather opinions of people across 24 districts with questions centering on various aspects of transport.
Upon receiving results from the poll, experts and scientists will finalize their solutions to better reduce the nightmare traffic in the southern metropolis.