Hanoi to add new bus routes to boost public transportation

By Minh Nga   September 11, 2019 | 10:00 pm PT
Hanoi to add new bus routes to boost public transportation
A public bus (blue) in a traffic jam in Hanoi in February 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
To encourage more people to use public transportation, Hanoi will add 25-30 new routes to its bus map next year.

The addition will increase the total number of bus routes in the city to between 46 and 51. 

The move is part of efforts by the capital city to raise the ratio of passengers using public transportation to 20-25 percent.

Under a plan approved Tuesday by city chairman Nguyen Duc Chung, metro lines would account for 1-3 percent of commuters using public transportation.

Hanoi's first metro line, connecting Cat Linh Station in downtown Dong Da District to the Yen Nghia Station in Ha Dong District, is said to be 99 percent complete after missing several deadlines.

The operational deadline of its second line, meanwhile, has been pushed back a year to December 2022.

Currently, public transport is only able to meet 15.7 percent of travel demand of Hanoi residents and municipal transport authorities had said at a public meeting in July that they predicted the ratio will rise to 17.3 percent by the end of this year.

The new bus routes will service the outskirts of the city as well as areas that are usually crowded, like residential areas, shopping malls and entertainment complexes.

They will also be open to connect with the two metro lines and the existing bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

The city also plans to make exclusive space for public buses on certain streets next year.

Hanoi officials have said that they are trying to make the public transport system as convenient as possible as a solution for the traffic jams that occur frequently on city roads. A convenient public transportation system can reduce the use of personal vehicles.

City chairman Chung said in May that if the public transport system becomes better, the city can speed up its planned ban on motorbikes.

On March 10, Hanoi's transport officials told city leaders that they were considering two options to reduce private vehicles on the roads, one of which was to limit and then gradually prohibit motorbikes in the downtown area by 2030.

The plan would also include a halt to the licensing of new motorbikes.

City Party Chief Hoang Trung Hai endorsed both plans, saying six million cars and motorbikes were registered in the city, another two million have been brought from other provinces and the police and defense forces have another million.

To put the number of vehicles on the roads in context, the capital’s population is 7.7 million.

The department then rolled out a plan to pilot the motorbike ban on two routes that run parallel in Thanh Xuan District, around seven kilometers (4.3 miles) west of downtown Hanoi.

However, experts and the public are unhappy with the idea of banning motorbikes in downtown Hanoi, pointing out that public transportation is yet to meet the demands of local residents, and cars too are a major cause of traffic jams.

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