HA NOI (VNS)— Ha Noi has started construction on a VND1 trillion (US$ 49 million) rapid transit route for buses. The 14km route, aimed at improving the urban transport network, is planned to go into operation by 2015.
The project however is the subject of public concern. According to Nguyen Hoang Linh, Deputy Director of the city's transport department, buses travel alongside other means of transport and with their low speed, they are often blamed for traffic jams. The development of the Ha Noi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that will transport a large number of passengers is nevertheless necessary, he said.
The BRT route is a two-way route that stops at: Kim Ma Station–Giang Vo- Lang Ha–Le Van Luong-Le Trong Tan-Highway 6-Yen Nghia Station.
Each 90-seat express bus will travel at approximately 22kmph so the time between each stop will be between three and five minutes. Up to 35 express buses connected to a Global Positioning System (GPS) will be mobilised onto the route.
The management board of the BRT said the system included four priority elements: modern vehicles with high passenger volume, exclusive running way, attractive stations or stops and off-board fare collection.
As one of the components of the Ha Noi Urban Transport Development Project funded by the World Bank, improving public transport capacity is very important, said the board.
These express buses will pick up passengers in designated zones, unlike the current stops located on pavements. Main stations will be allocated near cross-roads or junctions. Magnetic bus cards will also be applied.
However, the express bus on the BRT route will have to travel 2.5 km of its route on Giang Vo and Ba La streets with other vehicles.
Bui Danh Lien, chairman of the Ha Noi Transport Association, said express buses put into operation would be a big problem if they still had to share parts of the road with other kinds of vehicles. Lien believed the BRT route should go through an initial trial period before being implemented.
Dinh Thi Thanh Binh, director of the Transport Management Institue told Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourers) newspaper that the BRT needs its own separate road lane with 3.5-3.75m -wide lanes for its high speed. Careful research should be carried out to make sure the chosen roads would be wide enough to create space for the BRT while still ensuring the flow of other vehicles, she said.
Meanwhile, other experts said that newly built fly-over on Lang Ha–Huynh Thuc Khang streets and some streets of Giang Van Minh, Kim Ma and Giang Vo would need to be improved if they were to support the weight of big buses.
Many citizens also expressed their worries about BRT's effectiveness.
Le Hai Tien, 24, of Ha Noi Industrial University, said using such a big means of transport would pose great risks as they would block other vehicles on other lanes when traffic jams occurred.
Moreover, Tien believed express buses would be too slow to reach the designated speed of 22kmph because currently buses were only able to travel at 15kmph.
Nguyen Thuy Ha, who lives on Bach Mai Street, said she did not understand why authorities had to narrow down road lanes for other vehicles to provide space for buses.
Bui Hiep from Long Bien District said passengers were often forced to cross dangerous roads to reach stops.
BRT systems have been built in more than 130 cities worldwide such as Jakarta, Seoul, Bangkok, Paris and Istanbul. — VNS