Bùi Danh Liên. — Photo tienphong.vn
Bùi Danh Liên, Vice Chairman of Hà Nội’s Transport Association talks to Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper on the need for workable policies to reduce traffic congestion in Hà Nội.
How do you respond to the Hà Nội Transport Department’s proposal to ban motorbikes on 10 streets before the previous deadline set for 2030?
The Hà Nội Transport Department has been looking for measures to limit the use of private transport means, particularly motorbikes in the city’s inner streets.
But bringing this policy into force with support from the general public and concerned agencies remains a big question for Hà Nội transport authorities.
As a normal practice, before issuing a new public policy, the authorities conduct a survey on the reactions of people who will be directly or even indirectly affected by such a policy. In my opinion, we should conduct surveys in all Hà Nội’s inner city to gather comments or suggestions on the proposals.
Based on experiences from the past, if we want to make the proposal come into force, the first thing we need is more investment to improve the quality of the public transport services, including BRT system (bus rapid transport system) or elevated light trains along the Nguyễn Trãi – Lê Văn Lương streets or the Xuân Thủy – Cầu Giấy streets which are expected to be operational in the next few years. The prohibition of motorbikes on these main streets should be the last choice when there are no other alternatives.
In other nations, before motorbikes are banned on some streets the public is consulted. Why is this procedure not applied in Việt Nam?
In Beijing or Guangzhou, China, before local authorities issued their decisions to ban motorbikes in their cities, they already found other means of public transport to replace the daily movement of up to 40 per cent of the population in their cities. For motorbike users, a year or two before the ban took effect, the local authorities used the provincial budget to buy their citizens’ old motorbikes to encourage them to give up their motorbikes. Along with those policies, local authorities also levied high taxes on registration for new motorbikes and increase parking charges for motorbikes. Similar policies were also introduced in Singapore.
However, up to 80 per cent of means of vehicles using Hà Nôi’s streets are motorbikes while public transport means only meets 12 per cent of transport demand. It is projected in the next 10 years when the elevated trains and BRT are operational the number of passengers using these two types of transport will be 20-25 per cent. This is food for thought for Hà Nội authorities when considering banning motorbikes from city streets.
What’s your own point of view on Hà Nội’s proposal to limit the use of motorbikes and cars in the inner city?
I should say in all public forums, the Hà Nội Transport Association has voiced support for the plan to prohibit motorbikes in the inner city. However, we don’t totally agree with solutions to solve the traffic jams as mentioned in the proposal.
In our opinion, we should identify what are the main causes leading to problems. From the point of view of the Hà Nội Transport Association, to have sustainable and effective measures, Hà Nội’s authorities and concerned agencies, including schools and hospitals, should be the first agencies to move to outlying districts. This is in accordance with the municipal city’s plan some years ago.
I’m pretty sure, if the plan is implemented, the population in Hà Nội’s inner city will be reduced by at least 30 per cent. Coupled with that, city authorities should increase investment in infrastructure development, including the infrastructure for public buses and other public transportation means. — VNS