Can cable cars solve traffic headache for Saigon airport?

By Huu Nguyen   January 13, 2017 | 10:29 pm PT
A company told the city officials its ‘subway in the sky’ idea is a cheap solution.

A company in Ho Chi Minh City has proposed building a one-kilometer cable car system to Tan Son Nhat airport as an answer to paralyzing traffic jams often seen along surrounding streets.

The company said the city government is planning to curb congestion by building a $250-million metro line to the overloaded airport, the country’s largest. It said its cable car system will cost just around VND550 billion ($24.3 million) and will be just as effective in unclogging roads.

The company said it will need only 10 months to build the system, which will run from Gia Dinh Park straight to the airport.

A source from the company, requesting anonymity, said under the proposal, each cabin can carry eight to 10 passengers at around 25 kilometers per hour. The whole system can transport 3,000 passengers an hour.

“Using the cable cars will help reduce vehicles on the road and effectively ease traffic,” he said.

“It is environmentally friendly and can serve passengers for a very long time,” he said, adding that a metro line would be a better option for a longer distance.

Bui Xuan Cuong, director of HCMC's Department of Transport, said more time is needed to review the proposal.

“We have to carefully study the technical approach and possible impacts on the development plan of the area,” Cuong said.


Heavy traffic jams have been seen regularly outside Tan Son Nhat airport in recent years. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran

But experts have blasted the idea as unrealistic.

Pham Sanh, a respected transport expert, said cable cars are only suitable in areas with few vehicles traveling below and where roads cannot be built.

“Would you drive with cable cars swinging above your heads?” he said, questioning the safety of such a project in a crowded city.

Sanh added that a cable car system, though cheap in the first place, will require a lot of money for maintenance.

Around the world, urban cable cars and gondolas are being seen as an unconventional solution to traffic jams, with varying levels of success.

Heavy traffic jams have occurred regularly around Tan Son Nhat airport in recent years. Sometimes vehicles are stuck for hours and travelers could be seen abandoning their taxis and running to the airport to catch their flights.

Vietnam’s airline market is growing at the third fastest pace in Asia-Pacific and the country is grappling with an acute dearth of airport capacity.

Aviation authorities estimated that the number of passengers on domestic flights soared 35 percent to 28 million in 2016, accounting for more than half of the total air travel in the country.

Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and VietJet and the newly founded Vietstar are planning to expand their fleets to a total of 263 aircraft in the next four years. Vietstar has not even been licensed to fly yet.

The country is working on a design for a massive airport in Dong Nai Province to share some of the heavy load for Tan Son Nhat, but construction can take years.

Related news:

Hanoi plans second rapid bus route in push for public transport

HCMC plans $652-million elevated road to ease traffic congestion

go to top