Hanoi's Chairman Nguyen The Thao has ordered municipal agencies under the Ministry of Transport to take bold measures to improve the quality of public bus service.
Hanoi moves toward better bus service for local residents
Thao emphasised the importance of public transport in decreasing the number of private vehicles and easing traffic congestion. But he also pointed out some of the bus system's shortcomings over the last decade.
“Buses are often crowded, don't run on a strict timetable and skip scheduled stops during rush hour. The distance between bus stops needs to be more well thought-out. Also, we have received numerous reports about passengers being ill-treated or even abused by bus drivers and other staff, which adds to the feeling of many passengers that busses are not safe," he said.
To improve the quality of service on buses and increase their viability as a mean of public transport, Thao urged Hanoi Transport Corporation (Transerco) to inspect and restructure bus route systems in a way that will better meet demand. The plans will involve different sized buses depending on their routes.
“We have had bus lanes for some time. Now we can study whether or not they have been effective. If so, then we should put them into broader use. The locations of bus stops should also be reviewed," Thao said.
He added that more modern and efficient buses should be used, that would make it easier for the elderly and disabled while decreasing pollution. As for the recent reports of customer dissatisfaction with the behaviour of staff, he suggested that training courses should be provided to ensure that both drivers and attendants treat passengers in a courteous and respectful manner.
To achieve this, Transerco would co-operate with the municipal police to identify and apply penalties to drivers and other staff who violate regulations. Inspection teams would also be formed to check the quality of service.
He further suggested that Transerco apply modern science and technology to improve bus service, for example, supervising bus routes by GPS, using smart cards instead of paper tickets and improving infrastructure.
Thao assigned the Hanoi Department of Finance the task of making sure fares were being properly applied. The financing for this, he said, could be aided by low-interest Government loans to Transerco.
The Chairman urged the Hanoi Department of Transport to carry out these changes in conjunction with the development of other means of public transport, including tramcars, planned to be put in use in the future.