Le Thi Linh in the Van Khe Urban Area of Ha Dong District in Hanoi sometimes rides the BRT from her home to Giang Vo Street.
However, it often takes more time to get there than with a normal bus, because the lane for BRT is often blocked at peak times because private vehicles are crowding into it.
“When private vehicles are driving in the right-of-way reserved for BRT, BRT, they cannot move, just like normal buses. Because of this, BRT still cannot attract passengers,” Linh said.
Hoang Van Minh, a resident of Ba La urban area in Ha Dong, said it is clear that the development of BRT has failed due to the wrong vision and unreasonable urban transportation planning.
He said this was due to BRT’s placement on busy routes, many multi-storey buildings, narrow traffic areas and too many intersections.
“BRT occupies a third of the road’s width and passes through many intersections, so all roads BRT travels through have become traffic jams,” Minh said. “Some BRT stations don’t have a footbridge and passengers have to cross streets, threatening traffic safety.”
According to the Hanoi Public Transport Operation Center, after five years of use, BRT has been accepted by people praising its quality of service.
The number of BRT passengers has increased, but not by much. In 2018 there were 5.3 million GRT passengers, 6.3 percent more than in 2017.
In 2019, BRT served 5.5 million passengers, up 3.7 percent from 2018. Meanwhile, the number of passengers reached 5.356 million in 2020, down 2.6 percent.
BRT has advantages that differentiate it from regular buses. Since a dedicated lane is reserved for BRT, it can travel smoothly at an average speed of 20 kilometers per hour. The length of time is stable and the punctuality rate is high.
When establishing BRT Route No. 01, Hanoi hoped that it would replace private vehicles and help reduce congestion.
However, problems arose during the trial run of BRT. Private vehicles are encroaching on the lane reserved for BRT, reducing BRT traffic speeds.
Cameras set up on Quang Trung Road show about 308 vehicles traveling in the BRT lanes in one hour. The number is 707 on To Huu Street.
Hanoi has attempted to resolve the issues, including allowing regular buses to use the BRT-reserved lane.
However, another problem has arisen. Bus stops are on the right part of the streets. When regular buses travel in the lane reserved for BRT, passengers have to cross the street to catch the bus, making traffic worse.
mistake in planning
Nguyen Van Thanh, deputy director-general of Vietnam’s Roads Directorate, said it was clear the country’s first BRT route had not been successful.
According to Thanh, Hanoi programmed BRT in a hurry and didn’t think the plan through carefully. BRT routes run along narrow streets like Le Van Luong and To Huu, but Hanoi still allows the construction of multi-story buildings, reducing space for BRT.
“There should be a system with many interconnected tracks. Hanoi plans to establish eight BRT routes. If routes can be reasonably arranged, passengers will take BRT instead of using private vehicles,” Thanh said.
He said that before establishing the next BRT routes, Hanoi must create favorable conditions for BRT to operate effectively.
Priority lanes for BRT should be reserved and vehicles intruding into the lane severely penalized. Even normal buses must stop driving in BRT lanes.
“BRT works very effectively in South Korea and Indonesia, especially in Indonesia, which has similar transport conditions to Vietnam. This is because they set BRT routes on suitable roads and give absolute priority to BRT,” Thanh said.
He thinks it is better to separate the lane for normal vehicles and the lane for BRT with a hard median.