Metro lines only solution to get rid of traffic jams: HCMC chairman

By Le Tuyet   June 15, 2024 | 11:00 pm PT
Metro lines only solution to get rid of traffic jams: HCMC chairman
Several trains of the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line are seen at the Long Thanh Depot, June 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
HCMC's traffic jams will not go away without metro systems, the chairman of the southern metropolis said.

Phan Van Mai, chairman of the HCMC People's Committee, earlier this week said a city with 2 million people already has to consider building metro networks, as evident in places around the world, while, HCMC already has over 10 million people.

The city's first metro line, the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien spanning 20 km, is 98% complete and is expected to begin operation at the end of the year. However, challenges remain to put the line to work on time, Mai said.

As planned, HCMC is supposed to complete 31 km of urban railways by 2030, including the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien and the Ben Thanh-Tham Luong lines.

By 2035, the city should have around 183 km worth of urban railways. The total investment for the city's metro line for the next 10 years is estimated to be around $36 billion. By 2060, the city should have a complete metro system, with a total length spanning over 510 km.

By 2040, HCMC should have a system consisting of five cities belonging to it, similar to how Thu Duc City is right now, Mai said. He said such a city model would have metro systems as the main way of connectivity. However, the city's traffic infrastructure has not been completed so far, so planning was difficult.

"Only when HCMC completes its urban metro systems can congestion in the city be resolved," he said, adding that 70% of the metro lines would be underground, opening up space for the city's development.

Tran Quang Lam, director of the HCMC Department of Transport, said the total length of the city's urban railways should reach around 558 km by 2040, meaning there would be 30-40 km of railways for every 1 million people.

By 2030, public transportation should meet 35-45% of travel demand, Lam said, adding that 349 million people used public transportation in 2022, reaching 86.9% of the supposed goal.

Lam said the slow development and deployment of urban railway systems had contributed to the failed target, while the rising number of personal vehicles eclipses infrastructural development, leading to traffic jams and overcapacity, negatively impacting the economy and the environment.

"Prioritizing metro development is the most effective solution to the urban traffic problem sustainably," Lam said.

HCMC's second metro line, the Ben Thanh-Tham Luong, is now under the process of land clearance and the relocation of infrastructure.

On the funds required to invest into 200 km of urban railways in the next 10 years, estimated to be at $36 billion, Mai said there needs to be "breakthrough mechanisms" to mobilize them.

He said around the world, such funds would be taken mainly from the national budget. South Korea's Busan, for example, generates 40-50% of the funds from selling tickets, advertisements and renting spaces, with the rest covered by the national budget.

If the $36 billion fund required is divided over the next 10 years, around $4 billion would be needed per year, and such a number is "not too much," Mai said.

The city will not consider using ODA, but borrow money from the populace through bonds, he said.

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