Motorbikes are why public transport cannot flourish in Vietnam

By Nguyen Trung Hieu   May 4, 2022 | 07:34 pm PT
Motorbikes are why public transport cannot flourish in Vietnam
A long-exposure photo of vehicles running on Hanoi's Nguyen Trai Street, April 29, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Buses and trains can never be as convenient as a motorbike, and so as long as motorbikes remain widespread, public transport will never reach its true potential.

First we need to stop giving the excuse that motorbikes are needed because Vietnamese are still poor. We cannot use poverty as an excuse to pollute the environment with emissions. Poverty is not an excuse to use outdated and unsafe vehicles and become a menace in traffic.

We need to have stringent standards to protect the environment and more licenses required to use personal vehicles, including certificates to prove the vehicles meet emission standards, or introducing regular fees for environmental protection for motorized vehicles.

There should also be roads where motorbikes are banned, and having more and more of them will encourage people to give up motorbikes completely.

At the same time the planning of residential, industrial and services areas should be done in such a way as to make it convenient to use public transport. People should not be made to go all over the city to get to where they want.

I see that some people are waiting for a day when public transport is good enough to ditch their motorbikes. But none of them could answer why Vietnam's public transport has never been good enough.

I believe the answer is obvious. Public transport can never hope to match a motorbike's convenience.

People cannot wait for five minutes to travel 500 meters using public transport. Public transport will never reach the destination in time if motorbikes are always trying to keep roads to themselves. It is a reality that even countries with well developed public transport will understand.

Some blame the subpar infrastructure for the inability of public transport to flourish. But they’re the same people who refuse to cooperate with authorities trying to clean up sidewalks. They are simply afraid things will no longer being convenient for them. When all the street stalls are gone, will you be willing to give up motorbikes and switch to public transport instead? Or will you throw tantrums, saying that it would not be fair to poor people?

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