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Hanoians urged to avoid metro during rush hour for Covid prevention

By Vo Hai, Pham Chieu   November 9, 2021 | 01:06 am PT
Hanoians urged to avoid metro during rush hour for Covid prevention
Passengers are packed inside a car of Hanoi's Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line, November 7, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
The Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro stations would be temporarily closed should passenger numbers overwhelm Covid safety measures, the line's managers said.

A large influx of passengers arrived at Yen Nghia Station on Monday morning, mostly comprising students and the elderly.

"Over 5,000 free tickets were given out within a short amount of time," a ticketing staff member said.

As a coronavirus prevention step, the Hanoi Metro company that manages the line urged those who come just for the experience to "avoid peak hours to prevent large gatherings."

Nguyen Thi Tung, 67, said she invited two friends with her to enjoy the train. They started from Cat Linh Station and traveled all the way to Yen Nghia Station, then back again.

"The train was fast and felt stable," Tung said.

In Hoai Duc District, Nguyen Viet Long, 72, traveled on a bus to Yen Nghia Station to get a taste of the train. Long, who had a stroke, had to use a wheelchair to get around.

Tung and Long were among hundreds of thousands to have experienced Vietnam’s first metro line from Nov. 6 to 8. On Nov. 7 alone, there were 54,000 passengers, double the number for the previous day.

The didn't reach even half of the train's maximum capacity, but lack of social distancing has been a concern.

"From 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Nov. 7, too many people had gathered on the first floor of Cat Linh Station, which crippled coronavirus prevention measures," said Nguyen Van Ngoc, deputy director of Hanoi Metro.

The firm had already activated measures for coronavirus prevention, he added.

Panels were erected so passengers could line up properly, with passengers having to medically declare and disinfect themselves before ascending to the second floor, among other measures to ensure social distancing.

Twelve stations along the metro line also have temporary quarantine zones, ready to isolate anyone suspected to have Covid-19.

"As of Monday morning, the number of passengers is still high but lower than during the weekends. If there are too many people, presenting high coronavirus risks, we would temporarily close stations," Ngoc said.

Do Viet Hai, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Transport, said when there are too many passengers, stations would be temporarily shut for 20-30 minutes.

People would be instructed to dissipate elsewhere, and buses would be sent to stations for transportation purposes.

The Cat Linh – Ha Dong Metro Route, Vietnam's first metro line to enter operation, opened to the public on Nov. 6 after 10 years of construction, offering free rides for the first 15 days.

In the first week, the line would operate between 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with each ride 15 minutes apart. In the second week, each ride would be 10 minutes apart.

Each car is capable of hosting 240 passengers. A train with four cars would be able to carry 960 people.

Hanoians queue up to try out the Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro, November 2021. Video by Loc Chung, Anh Phu

 
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