Hanoi and HCM City are considering prohibiting motorbikes from entering inner city areas.
An official of the Hanoi Transport Department has confirmed that from 2019 the department will begin to restrict personal vehicles in the inner city before a complete ban is imposed. In the immediate time, the restriction will occur in areas where public transport could be used.
Later, along with an improved bus system and upgraded roads, Hanoi hopes to ban motorbikes in circulation by 2030.
The official said that the transport department only wants to restrict the operation of motorbikes, but doesn’t want to limit ownership of vehicles. This is in line with the Law on Road Transport.
Meanwhile, HCM City has been moving ahead with its project on strengthening public passenger transport and control of personal vehicles.
Under the project, motorbikes would be banned in some central districts of the city (1, 3, 5 and 10) in 2025-2030. The municipal authorities are also considering solutions to control the parking of cars in central areas by collecting fees during rush hours.
Nguyen Xuan Thuy, who has been carrying out research on urban transport for 40 years, said Hanoi’s plan was unacceptable. He said that motorbikes are not the major culprit that causes traffic jams and pollution.
There are 45 million motorbikes and 4 million cars in Vietnam, according to the Ministry of Transport (MOT).
“Motorbikes are not the means of transport that causes traffic jams. The problem lies is the high number of cars, which account for large road surfaces,” he said. “So, it is a blunder to ban motorbikes to ease traffic congestion.”
With small roads and underdeveloped public means of transport, prohibiting motorbikes will not be feasible, he said.
Analysts also think the ban will face strong opposition from Hanoians and HCM City residents. They said that Hanoi and HCM City are polluted because of industrial production, coal-fired thermal power plants located near the cities, and construction activities.
A report of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) showed that air quality in Hanoi has become worse recently, with air quality index (AQI), the daily indicator of air quality, measurements ranging from 78 to 178.
Scientists estimated that the damages caused by air pollution to Vietnam in 2013 were up to $10 billion, and the death toll from air pollution is four times higher than traffic accidents.