Hanoi has announced a plan to ban motorbikes in the downtown area from 2025 to prevent the city’s heavy traffic from getting worse, officials said at a meeting Monday.
They said it is necessary for the city to impose strict measures to contain the rapid growth of personal vehicles and promote public transport.
Officials admitted that the number of cars and motorbikes in the city is now too big and that the city has never been able to come up with an effective solution.
Hanoi hopes to build an adequate public transport system over the next decade before the motorbike ban takes effect. It is unclear why cars are not included in such a ban.
Nguyen Phi Thuong, board chairman of Hanoi Transport and Services Corporation, the public bus operator, said the city needs to double the number of buses, which currently only serve 8-10 percent of transport demand.
The city now has 1,000 buses, with 27 million passenger rides a month.
It is also banking on a metro system to tackle congestion. But the first line of the urban train network will not be completed until 2018, if there is no delay. At least five other lines have been planned, with construction work expected to last a decade.
The number of individual vehicles in Hanoi has reached 5.5 million, including more than 4.9 million motorbikes. That means more than 70 cars and nearly 700 motorbikes for every one kilometer of road. Vehicles from nearby cities and provinces are also aplenty.
Official figures released late last year showed that 8,000-20,000 new motorbikes and 6,000-8,000 new cars were registered in the city every month.
Given the growth, officials estimated that around one million cars and seven million motorbikes will have fought for space in the city by 2020.
The large number of private vehicles has been blamed as one of the major causes of pollution to the city's environment, which has been repeatedly ranked by the Real Time Air Quality Index as "unhealthy."
The city’s environment department officials at a meeting Sunday also admitted that air pollution has gone beyond safety limits, due largely to the rise of vehicles and the use of fossil fuel.