Experts mull solutions to ease city’s traffic congestion

Limiting the use of personal vehicles and expanding public transport must be done soon to alleviate the increasing traffic congestion in Ho Chi Minh City, said experts at a seminar held in the city October 9.

A traffic jam on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, a scene often seen in HCM City. Experts discussed solutions to resolve chronic traffic congestion in the city at a seminar held on October 9.

Jointly held by the HCM City Institute for Development Studies and the city’s Association of Bridge and Road - Port (ABROP HCM), the seminar focused on feasible solutions, short and medium term, to ease the chronic traffic jams in the city.

Considering the current situation of using motorbikes, the city needs to have as much as 12 million square meters of roads to meet the demand for traffic, but it cannot afford this, said Dr Pham Xuan Mai, from the HCM City University of Technology.

Therefore, the city needs to restrict the circulation of personal vehicles while stepping up the development of public transport, he said.

To this end, he suggested an annual charge be applied for motorbike users.

The rates of charge can vary depending on the cylinder capacity of vehicle, with the lowest at VND20,000 for 50 cubic centimeters (cc) and the highest at VND100,000 for over 150 cc, he said.

That way, the city can collect up to VND170 billion (US$9.5 million) per year, he forecast.

The city can also collect environmental fees from motorbike users, he recommended.

All such charges and fee collected will be used for investing in the city’s public traffic system, he said.

Meanwhile, engineer Nguyen Van Thanh, from the ABROP HCM, commented that this solution is not feasible.

He argued that when the public transport traffic infrastructure has yet to meet the current demand for travel, motorbikes will be still a means of transport for most residents for least five to ten years.

Therefore, no matter how high such a charge can be, people will manage to buy motorbikes for travel.

Instead, Mr. Thanh proposed a surcharge of VND500 per liter of petrol or oil that is sold within the city.

This solution will create equality among the car and motorbike users, since those who travel more will pay more, he said.

Such a surcharge will bring VND500 billion per year to the city’s budget, and it will be spent on improving its traffic infrastructure, he added.

He also said the collection and spending of the charge must be open to the public.

Meanwhile, engineer Vu Duc Thang, a former official of the city’s Department of Transport, emphasized developing public transport, considering it a solution to traffic congestion.

Of the same mind, Prof. Dr. Nguyen Xuan Vinh, from Ton Duc Thang University, said the city needs to step up the building of bus only lanes, along with the setting up of metro and tramcar systems.

In addition, the quality of bus services must be improved to attract more users, he advised.

In order to have proper solutions to the traffic problem, Ha Ngoc Truong, deputy chairman of ABROP HCM, suggest the city’s People’s Committee and the city’s Department of Transport to set up a research team that is responsible to identify which solutions are most feasible for the traffic development of the city.

By Quoc Huy – Translated by Mai Truc

Other news