Vietnam cities need to separate buses from motorbikes

By Anh Duong   July 19, 2023 | 10:31 pm PT
Vietnam cities need to separate buses from motorbikes
Buses and motorbikes are stuck in traffic on a highway in Thu Duc City, HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Traffic in Hanoi and Saigon will never get better so long as public buses still have to share lanes with motorbikes, the cities' most common means of transport.

The conflict between individual and public vehicles is a common story in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam's neighbors Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand also struggle with the problem, which is a major cause of their traffic jams.

Reasons for buses having to share the lanes with motorbikes include high population density, outdated infrastructure, and poor driver awareness.

Let's take a look at Indonesia, which has a traffic system similar to Vietnam's. Jakarta has had to deal with regular, severe traffic jams and many solutions have been adopted. The most important was the separation of public buses from cars and motorbikes.

The city set up the BRT system called Transjakarta in 2004, which now has around 500 buses operating on 12 lines with more than 200 stations from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Some special lines operate over night.

Each bus has 30 seats but can accommodate up to 80 passengers. Most bus stations are connected to each other with pedestrian-exclusive lanes.

Hanoi and Saigon should do the same.

If they want to develop public transport, if they want to ban motorbikes, they need to give the buses more space. More people will take the bus to school and to work when the buses can be on time and quick. People will realize that using the buses will save themselves from traffic congestion, not to mention harsh sunshine and dirty air.

Anyone who encroaches on the bus lanes will need to be punished heavily and have their licenses revoked.

The buses also need to run late to serve more people and expand their client base.

I really want to use public transport more often in major cities in Vietnam. But the cities need to create conditions for people to change their habit.

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