HCMC considering downtown curb on motorbikes

By Huu Nguyen   August 23, 2018 | 07:56 pm PT
HCMC considering downtown curb on motorbikes
Motorbikes are seen on a road in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Motorbikes may no longer be the most popular means of transport in HCMC if it approves a proposal from the transport ministry to limit their numbers.

The ministry's Transport Development and Strategy Institute, asked by Ho Chi Minh City's transport department to draft a plan to deal with the chronic traffic gridlock, has suggested limiting the number of motorbikes in three phases over a decade from 2020.

By 2020 the plan seeks to make Truong Son Street outside Tan Son Nhat Airport in Tan Binh District and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street in the central District 1 off-limits to motorbikes during rush hours, and do the same for part of the nearby Pasteur and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia streets between 7a.m. and 7p.m.

Between 2021 and 2025, the ban will be extended to full time on Vo Van Kiet, Dinh Tien Hoang, Dien Bien Phu, Hai Ba Trung, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Nguyen Van Cu streets, all major roads of District 1.

In 2026-30 the number of motorbikes will be capped at a certain level before they are completely banned in Districts 1, 3, 5, and 10.

The plan also proposes hourly parking fees and restricting parking lots in the downtown area, hiking the registration fee for automobiles, and imposing a fee in traffic jam hotpots for cars during rush hour.

Buses will play the major people-carrying role until other means like the metro and monorail go into service, possibly by 2030.

The city has to add 55-120 bus routes to increase the total number to 192-255 and operate 4,200-4,800 buses.

The motorbike plan was first put forward last year but many transportation experts said what the city needs to do first is develop its public transport.

Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the transport department, said then that the city would appraise the plan and make a decision.

“Only when public transport meets the needs of the public will the city ban motorbikes.”

By August last year HCMC had nearly eight million vehicles, including 7.3 million motorbikes.

In July last year Hanoi lawmakers approved a proposal to ban motorbikes from the city center by 2030 to reduce traffic congestion despite strong opposition from experts and the public.

The motorbike ban has been mooted and rehashed several times in the past few years, and always met with strong opposition from experts and the public as it targets the country’s most popular means of transport.

In recent weeks legal and transportation experts have railed against the ban, calling it “hasty” and even “impossible” given the state of public transport.

Some said the ban has no legal grounds and would put Vietnam at odds with the rest of the world since people are free to drive motorbikes in most countries.

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