Saigon restarts plan to adjust school, office hours to clear clogged streets

By Minh Nga   August 1, 2017 | 11:41 am GMT+7
Saigon restarts plan to adjust school, office hours to clear clogged streets
HCMC is returning the plan of adjusting working and school hours to deal with its chronicle traffic gridlock. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

8 million private vehicles are now choking the city's streets, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Saigon is revisiting a plan to change school and office hours in an attempt to stagger the amount of traffic hitting the city's streets during rush hours.

At a meeting with Mayor Nguyen Thanh Phong on Monday, local residents complained that the city has spent a lot of time and money on improving traffic infrastructure, but chronic gridlock persists.

They said the city's population has climbed to 13 million, but upgrades to traffic infrastructure have not kept pace with growing transport pressure, local media reported.

In response, Phong said the city hall would revert back to the original plan of adjusting school and office hours, adding it would look at proposals from district-level authorities before coming up with a final solution.

In May, the city assigned several agencies to develop a plan to be submitted before July 30.

The city’s transport department first mooted the idea in 2001 and returned to it in 2007 and 2009, but it never got off the ground.

Last year, the department put the plan forward again. Its details have remained unclear.

Authorities are pushing ahead with two metro lines and a bus rapid transit (BRT) project along with new bus terminals in outlying areas in an attempt to reduce traffic jams.

They are also looking at ways to cut private vehicles from downtown areas as another way of easing congestion, Bui Xuan Cuong, the director of the city’s transport department, said in April.

As of April 15, the city has around eight million private vehicles, an increase of 5.8 percent against the same period last year, including 642,000 private automobiles and more than 7.3 million motorbikes.

Research conducted by Associate Professor Pham Xuan Mai from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology released in March last year found that traffic congestion costs the southern metropolis more than VND18.3 trillion ($820 million) every year.