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City mulls car tolls to ease traffic

Update: April, 15/2017 - 09:00
Traffic congestion on the Bình Triệu Bridge section of National Route No 13 in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hải
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, the People’s Committee of HCM City has approved a plan to collect road tolls on cars entering downtown areas.

The city’s Department of Transport is working with Innovative Technology Development Corporation (ITD) to finalise procedures to begin the project in three months.

The project will be executed under a PPP (public-private partnership) contract.

Lâm Thiếu Quân, president and CEO of ITD, said that several contract clauses submitted by ITD to HCM City authorities in 2011 had become outdated.

He said additional clauses about the scheme must include studies of the city’s public transport system, including buses, taxis and the future metro system.

Investments, toll and fine levels should also be re-considered.

Tolls would not be collected everywhere, but only on roads now facing traffic jams.

“Motorbikes are the major means of transport of most residents, so efforts to collect road tolls and reduce use of motorbikes don’t seem feasible,” said Quân.

Since "the State budget for maintenance of road networks remains limited, toll collections imposed on cars entering traffic-clogged inner districts are appropriate," he added.

Ngô Hải Đường, head of the city’s Transport Department’s Road Infrastructure Management and Exploitation Division, said that certain aspects of the plan were under consideration, including the parameters of the downtown area, the toll amounts during specific hours, and capital investment needed, among others.

Prior to implementation, authorities would collect feedback from local residents and experts, Đường said.

Since the primary purpose was to reduce traffic congestion in the city’s centre, tolls would only be applied at rush hour, he added.

The charges would be between VNĐ40,000 (US$1.76) and VNĐ60,000 ($2.64), depending on the type of vehicle, a representative of ITD said.

Tolls would not be applied to buses and public service vehicles, while drivers would be required to pay fees only when entering the downtown area, he said.

ITD’s 2011 project

In an interview with Việt Nam News, Lâm said that tolls would be collected at 35 automatic tollgates on streets leading to the city centre from a ring road from Hoàng Sa street along the Nhiêu Lộc-Thị Nghè Canal through Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên, February 2nd, Lê Hồng Phong, Lý Thái Tổ, Nguyễn Văn Cừ, Võ Văn Kiệt, and Tôn Đức Thắng streets.

The tollgates would automatically collect fees from OBUs (On Board Units) equipment installed in cars. Car owners can buy an OBU for VNĐ800,000 (US$38) or hire one.

Initially the fee would be VNĐ30,000 for each entry by car with fewer than seven seats and VNĐ50,000 for larger vehicles, but would later increase to VNĐ40,000 and VNĐ70,000, respectively, during peak hours.

Fees will be collected between 6am and 8pm every day.

According to ITD’s study of streets running to the city centre, 110,000 to 150,000 vehicles enter downtown HCM City every day.

The tolls could help lower demand for car travel to the city centre by 30 to 40 per cent and reduce traffic jams in the downtown area.

ITD’s project also aims to prevent taxi drivers from driving into inner districts without passengers.

People who want to enter the city centre in their own cars or by taxi must pay the toll. Otherwise, they can travel to downtown areas on motorbikes or by bus, both of which have a smaller contact surface on streets.

In HCM City, cars meet only 10 per cent of residents’ demand for transport, but occupy 50 per cent of the street contact surface.

In addition to curbing traffic congestion, toll collection is expected to encourage residents to shift from individual vehicles to public transport.

“However, fee collection alone cannot curb traffic jams. It must be combined with other measures such as urban and infrastructure planning, and development of mass transport like the metro and monorail,” said Lâm.

“The project is just one of the important measures to combat traffic congestion. But other districts like Tân Bình, Tân Phú, and Bình Thạnh also face traffic jams,” he added. —VNS


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