Viet Nam News
In an effort to prevent taxis from driving around to pick up passengers and causing traffic congestion, at the beginning of this month the HCM City authorities launched a pilot programme placing five taxi stands at five locations in the downtown area of District 1.
It was a well-intentioned move, but very few people have actually come to the stands, since it’s easy to hail a ride from anywhere thanks to apps like Grab.
“Almost no one has approached the stand since it was put up,” a xe ôm (motorcycle taxi) driver standing near a taxi stand in front of the Galaxy cinema on Nguyễn Du Street told Lao Động (Laour) newspaper.
“It’s probably because people don’t even know about this new model of taxi hailing,” he said.
No taxi was seen picking up passengers at those designated spots either, Lao Động newspaper reported. For example, although a stand was put up right at the main entrance of the Children’s Hospital 2 on Lý Tự Trọng Street, most taxis still either went straight into the hospital’s campus to pick up or drop off passengers, or did it along the street, not by the stand.
Although hailing taxis at designated spots is a common practice in a lot of countries, it is indeed a new model in Việt Nam.
When a friend of mine found out about the programme, she was immediately opposed to the model—"It’s just not how taxis work," she said.
“Taxis are kind of a door-to-door service, and that’s their advantage,” she said. “Why make people go to a certain spot to get a taxi?”
While there is some logic in what she said, with 8,500 taxis currently in operation and a severe lack of parking space, HCM City certainly needs measures to prevent these vehicles from picking up and dropping off passengers anywhere they want if the goal is to ensure traffic safety. And putting up taxi stands is one of the sensible measures, in my opinion.
But the model should be more actively promoted so that more people know about it. Citizens should be given some incentives to actually go hail taxis at taxi stands when they can do it anywhere else. Taxi companies should raise awareness and train their drivers so that they actively seek to pick up passengers at the designated areas.
The locations for the stands should also be carefully selected. Some people said the five current stands in HCM City were not really accessible to most passengers.
“For example, the stand in front of the Galaxy cinema on Nguyễn Du Street is too near to a local school, making it difficult for taxis to pick up and drop off passengers,” Danh Thị Kim Thu, a managing official from the taxi company Vinasun told Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic & Urban Affairs) newspaper.
“The city should plan more carefully where they will put the other stands. The ideal locations should provide taxis with ambient space to pick up and drop off passengers,” she said.
Like any other new idea, it will take a while for taxi stands to earn their stripes in HCM City, and later on across the country.
But as the 4,600 taxi stands, together with metro lines and bus stops, have contributed to a rather orderly traffic flow in Singapore, let’s hope they will do the same for traffic in Việt Nam. — VNS