Hanoi scores poorly for urban mobility on global index

By Vi Vu   October 30, 2017 | 02:44 am PT
Hanoi scores poorly for urban mobility on global index
Buses, cars and motorbikes share a road in downtown Hanoi in a photo captured in September 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh
Outdated or non-existent public transport, traffic chaos and pollution are not the best ingredients for urban mobility.

Vietnam’s capital Hanoi has been ranked 96th out of 100 global cities in a new mobility survey that measured each city’s transport efficiency and convenience, traffic emissions and green space.

The 2017 Sustainable Cities Mobility Index was based on 23 individual indicators that reflect a component of urban mobility, from the cities’ commitment to infrastructure spending to the affordability of public transport.

The index was commissioned by Arcadis, an Amsterdam-based design and consultancy firm.

Public transport in Hanoi is poorly developed. Public buses are cheap and affordable, but they are old and have to share congested roads with cars and motorbikes, making them an unpopular choice for most commuters.

The city is developing its first metro line and an elevated railway, but both projects have hit delays due to funding problems. In response it is planning to control the rising number of private vehicles through controversial policies such as banning them from downtown streets.

The city of 7.6 million people has more than five million motorbikes and 550,000 cars. Data shows the number of private vehicles has been increasing at a rate of 4.6 percent annually, but the amount of land allocated for transport has only been expanding at a rate of 0.4 percent.

Private vehicles are also often blamed for dirty air in the city. Various studies have highlighted Hanoi’s severe ambient pollution, which is measured by the concentration of PM2.5 in the air, a particulate matter equal to just a fraction of the width of human hair released by vehicles, industry and natural sources like dust which can get into the lungs and cause cancer.

A study by the Hanoi-based Green Innovation and Development Center (GreenID) at the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations showed that the PM2.5 concentration in Hanoi exceeded the World Health Organization's standards 23 percent of the time between January and June this year.

Arcadis said in a report accompanying the release of the survey that rapid urbanization, aging infrastructure, population growth, and climate change are challenging cities around the world.

"Investing in sustainable mobility will give cities enhanced productivity, attractiveness and overall quality of life," it said.

Hanoi placed behind Kuala Lumpur (95), Bangkok (92) and Jakarta (89) in the ranking.

Hong Kong took top spot thanks to its innovative and well-connected metro network and a high share of trips taken by public transport. Seoul (4) and Singapore (8) were the other well-performing cities in Asia.

North American and Australian cities were spread across the index, while European cities claimed seven spots in the top 10 thanks to established infrastructure, efficient metro systems and commitment to green technology.

Middle East cities Riyadh, Amman and Jeddah made up the bottom three owing to limited public transport networks and low environmental scores due to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

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