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Hanoi public transport poised for breakthrough
Ngoc Mai 20:10, 2024/02/10
With good vehicle quality and services, electric buses have made many passengers willing to switch from motorcycles and cars to buses.

The market share of public transport in Hanoi is expected to nearly double by 2024, and traffic congestion in many areas will be significantly relieved.

This year is expected to mark a breakthrough in the quality of public transport, with the expansion of urban rail and clean fuel bus services covering a wider area, enticing residents to opt for public transportation over personal vehicles.

 Hanoi's public transport has seen major improvements over the years. Photo: Pham Hung/The Hanoi Times

Regaining former glory

After a prolonged period severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the growth momentum of Hanoi's Public Passenger Transportation (PPT) slowed down, with a significant decline in passenger volume and revenue. As a result, some residents returned to using private vehicles, leading to more complicated traffic congestion in the years 2022 and 2023.

However, in recent times, Hanoi's PPT has gradually regained its position, especially with the launch of Urban Rail Line 2A Cat Linh - Ha Dong and clean-fuel buses.

According to statistics from the Hanoi Public Transport Management and Operation Center, the bus network made an estimated 410.2 million trips in the first nine months of 2023, a 57.1% increase over the same period in 2022. The total revenue for the entire bus network reached an estimated VND410.2 billion ($16.8 million), a 32.8% increase over the same period in 2022. Urban Rail Line 2A recorded 7.7 million passengers, with a 41.3% revenue increase compared to 2022.

The position of PPT in the capital has been confirmed and is increasingly being leveraged. Vu Hong Truong, Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Director of Metro Hanoi, stated: "One of the significant benefits of urban rail is to change people's commuting habits. Many passengers have chosen  the metro as their primary mode of transportation and are willing to walk 1-2 km to reach train stations."

Urban management expert Phan Truong Thanh added that the emergence of electric buses has had a strong impact on people's awareness.

“With good vehicle quality and services, electric buses have made many passengers willingly switch from motorcycles and cars to buses," Thanh said.

Thai Ho Phuong, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Public Transport Management and Operation Center, revealed that in 2023, the center proposed adjustments to schedules, frequencies, and running times for 78 bus routes, resulting in significant positive outcomes.

Furthermore, the Hanoi Department of Transport has proposed to invite an independent consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the capital's bus network. Authorities are also diligently preparing for the introduction of electronic ticketing, which will provide a convenient and modern service for bus passengers.

"The increase in passenger volume indicates that people still have a high level of trust and expectations for PPT. Enhancing the quality of buses, optimizing the route network, and ensuring convenience will encourage people to leave their cars at home," said Phuong.

Doubling market share

Currently, the capacity utilization of Hanoi's PPT network has reached about 30%, but the actual output only accounts for approximately 19% of the market share. The Hanoi Department of Transport expects this to rise 35% in 2024.

Vu Hong Truong from the Hanoi Metro mentioned that in 2024, the elevated section of the urban railway from Nhon to Hanoi Station will be in operation, serving passengers on the Nhon - Cau Giay line. With the impressive numbers achieved on the Urban Rail Line 2A Cat Linh - Ha Dong, Hanoi's PPT ridership will certainly grow even faster, making it even more effective in encouraging people to choose the metro and buses as their primary means of transportation.

On the other hand, Hanoi has successfully introduced standardized fares for electric buses and CNG buses, laying the foundation for expanding the service area of clean-fuel buses. The  Hanoi Transport Corporation (Transerco) is also researching and preparing to invest in some clean fuel bus routes. A representative of Transerco suggested that clean-fuel buses provide passengers with a very comfortable and pleasant experience, which is one of the appealing advantages for the public.

“With electric or CNG-powered buses, PPT's ridership is expected to grow even more," he added.

Shortly, Hanoi's bus network will introduce an electronic ticketing system for the utmost convenience of passengers. The route network is also continuously being adjusted and rationalized.

Despite these positive signals, Hanoi's PPT still faces several immediate challenges. According to the Hanoi Department of Transport, the city will hire an independent consulting firm to assess the entire bus network. Based on this assessment, appropriate adjustments will be made to adapt to the current situation.

Many experts believe that while PPT’s management agencies and operating companies are making relentless efforts, citizens also need to show more practical support for PPT.

Do Cao Phan, a transport expert, said: "People should actively reduce gradually abandoning the use of private vehicles and gradually stop using them unless necessary. Walking, taking the bus, metro, or public bicycles not only help reduce traffic congestion but also contribute to protecting our living environment."

“If we consider urban railway projects and clean-fuel buses as additional resources, the policies aimed at improving the quality of PPT services that Hanoi has been implementing over the past period can be seen as internal resources. By simultaneously leveraging both internal and external resources, 2024 is expected to be a year of even more remarkable breakthroughs for Hanoi's PPT,” said transport expert Do Cao Phan.
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