Bui Danh Lien, chairman of the Ha Noi Transport Association, spoke to Hai Quan (Customs) online about measures to limit the use of private vehicles and promote public transportation.
What do you think about the Government's recent decision to reduce traffic congestion in major cities?
I support the Government's decision to encourage people to use public transport in major cities in order to reduce traffic congestion. This is a common trend in many countries.
However, to do this, we need to develop a suitable road map.
If we look at countries that have adopted urban development plans in the last century, I would say their traffic situation is manageable. But for countries that have much older urban development plans, they have the same traffic problems as us.
Viet Nam's old urban development plan was designed for just about 30 million people. For example, Ha Noi, following the merger with old Ha Tay Province, the city's transport infrastructure became too narrow and traffic congestion occurred almost daily inside the city.
Another factor exacerbating the traffic problem is poor planning development. Furthermore, in some localities, local authorities are "the kings". For example, the Ha Noi Municipal Authority issued a decision to relocate factories and enterprises inside the inner city to outlying districts. But following the relocation of the factories and enterprises, the lands were used to build high rises or new urban areas. As a result, Ha Noi's inner city population has increased sharply, causing heavy traffic and traffic congestion in many parts of the city during rush hours.
The Ministry of Transport has submitted a proposal to the Government to start to limit private transport means in the inner city in 2020. But currently, most of the private transport means are motorcycles. Do you think the proposal is feasible?
I think the deadline to limit the use of private transports means in the city in 2020 is unfeasible. To encourage the people to use public transport, we need to have a good public transport system. Only about five years remain, so I don't think the proposal will be workable. I would suggest that 2020 be made the starting year to launch the campaign of encouraging the people to use public transport. Then in 2030 we'll actually implement the policy to limit the use of motorcycles in major cities.
For the time being, if we cannot limit the use of private means of transport in the inner city, what other measures should we introduce to solve the problem of traffic congestion?
So far, some of our temporary measures to ease traffic congestion at peak hours have proven effective. For example, constructing flying bridges, diverting traffic flows during peak hours and dismantling shops illegally occupying road pavements have proven to be very effective in easing traffic congestion.
No doubt, in urban areas, automobiles take up significant space on the roads. One measure to limit the use of cars during rush hours is to introduce a special traffic fee. This measure has been introduced in some countries already and has been proven successful, particularly in Singapore.
In your opinion, what are the most effective measures in the drive to limit the use of private transport means?
The most important measure is to allocate investment capital for infrastructure development while developing a good public transport system that is fast and has a large capacity - particularly the construction of an urban elevated train or subways.
In addition, we should also think about having good fleets of buses, taxis, bus rapid transit (BRT) and others. A case in point is Japan. They have a very good connecting system for users.
Last, but not least, is to launch a communication campaign to raise people's awareness, including political and social organisations in using public transport instead of their private transport means. — VNS