Le Toan, deputy director of HCM City's Department of Transport, tells Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper that HCM City plans to boost public transport use to beat traffic congestion.
The HCM City People's Committee has suggested a number of key measures to reduce traffic congestion in the city. What do you think is the most important measure?
The city People's Committee has proposed many critical measures to improve traffic conditions that will be carried out until 2015.
Licences issued for operating parking lots on pavements or parts of roads will be cancelled if they happen to be in busy spots. Pavements will be cleared of all obstructions and reserved for exclusive use by pedestrians, and severe penalties handed out to people illegally using pavements for any other purpose.
School and office hours will be reviewed for possible changes to ease traffic during rush hour, but it will be done in a manner that ensures people's lives are not affected.
The city will seek more funds to speed up proposed and ongoing traffic projects.
It would also implement long-term plans to improve public transportation in bid to limit the use of personal vehicles.
I reckon all the above measures are equally important and be carried out in tandem. The most important thing is that we combine all of them flexibly and efficiently so we can solve the problem of traffic congestion most effectively.
Who in particular will be responsible for carrying out these measures?
It will be the responsibility of district-level People's Committees to carry out measures to control traffic congestion. To be more precise, the heads of district administrations are responsible and should report to the city People's Committee.
Traffic police and inspectors would further check and shut down any illegal bus station and prohibit inter-provincial buses from entering and leaving areas in the city centre.
They would also check the operations of companies, restaurants and other institutions like foreign language centres and impose strict punishments, including revoking their licenses, if they are found violating regulations on traffic safety and order, like using pavements as parking plots.
What will the Department of Transport do to improve public transportation?
This is not an easy task. The department is now planning a project to invest in 1,680 buses by 2013. It will also draft a plan to develop public transportation until 2025.
Under the plan, the department would design bus routes in the city in such a way that they meet the demand of commuters and limit the use of personal vehicles.
It will review the situation regarding bus stations to see if it's necessary to shut down or build more bus stations. It will also carry out pilot programmes to use certain lanes or roads exclusively for buses in order to enhance the effectiveness of public transportation.
The department will also carry out a pilot programme to run express buses that will stop at only a few main stations between original and final destinations so as to shorten travel time. Fares will be higher on express buses.
What else can be done to limit the use of personal vehicles?
We have been researching many measures to limit the use of personal vehicles.
For example, the city is now considering a project to collect fees from automobiles that travel into the city centre areas, or ban certain vehicles from busy streets at certain periods of time during the day.
It is also researching a project to manage the number of newly-registered vehicles through a certificate that grants the right to purchase a vehicle to city residents. The project will be submitted to the Government and piloted first in HCM City. — VNS