Experts come up with new idea to cure gridlock near Saigon airport: monorails

By Huu Cong   October 21, 2017 | 12:25 am PT
Experts come up with new idea to cure gridlock near Saigon airport: monorails
Jammed traffic on a road leading to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Saigon one morning in May 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The idea came as the city is grappling with funds to complete its first metro line.

A proposal to build two monorails into Saigon’s international airport Tan Son Nhat has met with doubt as experts said the plan is financially unfeasible.

The Institute of Transport Science and Technology at the transport ministry has suggested that the megacity build two monorails from two parks that are around two kilometers, or 1.2 miles, from the airport to reduce the regular traffic jams in the area.

Gia Dinh Park is to the west of the city and Hoang Van Thu is to the south.

The monorails are expected to cost VND9.15 trilllion ($402.8 million), the institute said.

That is not to mention parking lots with space for 2,000 cars at each park.

Bui Xuan Cuong of the city’s transport department said the proposal is just an idea, and any next step will depend on whether it is deemed practical or suitable to the city’s urban planning.

The idea has so far received a lot of jeers.

Ha Trong Truong, vice chairman of the city’s Road, Bridge and Port Association, said the project is hardly practical.

Truong said the cost estimate is around 40 percent higher than the average market price, he said.

Also, the city has already planned a $250-million metro line between Hoang Van Thu Park and the airport, he said.

That would be the fourth line in the metro system planned for the city, although the first line connecting Districts 1 with 2 has hit several delays and the city is grappling with funding to meet its planned completion in 2020.

Some experts in the field have also suggested an elevated road and cable cars as an answer to traffic jams around the country’s largest airport.

In January, a company in the city proposed to build a one-kilometer cable car system which would cost only $24.3 million and take 10 months.

But the company withdrew the proposal in July, after experts questioned the safety of having cable cars flying over crowded roads.

Heavy traffic jams have occurred regularly around Tan Son Nhat airport in recent years. Sometimes vehicles are stuck for hours and travelers could be seen abandoning their taxis and running to the airport to catch their flights.

Vietnam’s airline market is growing at the third fastest pace in Asia-Pacific and the country is grappling with an acute dearth of airport capacity.

Aviation authorities estimated that the number of passengers on domestic flights soared 35 percent to 28 million in 2016, accounting for more than half of the total air travel in the country.

Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, VietJet and the newly founded Vietstar are planning to expand their fleets to a total of 263 aircraft in the next four years. Vietstar has not even been licensed to fly yet.

The country is working on a design for a massive airport in Dong Nai Province to share some of the heavy load for Tan Son Nhat, but construction can take years.

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