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Calculating a solution to traffic congestion: bus is the answer

By La Xanh   November 10, 2022 | 04:41 am PT
Calculating a solution to traffic congestion: bus is the answer
A bus picks up passengers on Ham Nghi Street in HCMC's District 1, October 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh
It is impossible to expand roads in major cities to prevent congestion, so the only way to increase their capacity is public transportation – the bus, in particular.

I have never seen a congested road full of motorbikes, but on the Trung Luong - Ho Chi Minh City highway that only cars run on, traffic jams are not uncommon.

This is not to say that commuters should be encouraged to ride motorbikes. However, it is necessary to face the fact that Vietnam's transport infrastructure cannot keep up with modern travel needs.

Watching a swarm of ants can be instructive. They move very smoothly until there is a huge obstacle...then they stop. Something on these lines is what happens with a traffic jam.

The solution that suggests itself, though very difficult to execute, is to widen the road, or make several layers of roads. Both are very costly options and the current budget situation doesn’t make them easier to consider.

So let’s consider this problem: we need to transport 1,000 people from the beginning to the end of Lang Ha Street in Hanoi.

There are three solutions. In the first solution, if you get 1,000 people to ride motorbikes, the number of motorbikes on the road will be 500-1,000. In the second, you get 1,000 people to drive 33 30-seat buses. In the third, let them do whatever they want. Those who want to use motorbikes can ride them and those who have cars can drive them, so there can be 500 motorbikes and 500 cars on the road.

Let's see what solution uses the road's full capacity.

Consider 1,000 people traveling in 30-seat buses. The 30-seat bus is 9 meters long and two meters wide, so one person would occupy just half a square meter of road.

But if these 1,000 people drove as many cars, each car that is 3 m long and 2 m wide would already occupy 6 m2. If one person occupied 6 square meters of the road, others would not be able to use their vehicles and the road cannot make full use of its capacity.

What is happening on our roads is obvious and the solution is hidden in plain sight.

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