Vietnam metro plans downtown toll roads

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The transport department of Ho Chi Minh City has presented a plan to collect car toll fees in the downtown districts 1 and 3 to reduce traffic jams and boost public transport, the Tuoi Tre reported Sunday.


Toll stations will be put up on 15 bridges and 20 roads around the two districts in downtown, according to the plan drafted by Tien Phong JSC, also known as Innovative Technology Development Corp. (ITD).


ITD presented the idea to the city government and got the approval to work on the idea in August last year.


The proposal is simple and costs less than the original idea, which had included more districts, said ITD.


Estimations by ITD showed that there're between 110,000-150,000 car arrivals in the city every day, which adds a burden to the heavy traffic.


The toll stations will be set on a corridor route established surrounding the city center, linked by Hoang Sa Street along the Thi Nghe Canal with Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, Ba Thang Hai, Le Hong Phong, Ly Thai To, Nguyen Van Cu, Vo Van Kiet and Ton Duc Thang Streets.


Each station will be furnished with a special electronic device to categorize the vehicles and collect suitable fees.


According to the company, cars and motorbikes are affecting the city traffic all the same, but the number of cars is increasing faster while the city roads are small.


Under the plan, cars between four to seven seats entering the districts between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. will be charged VND30,000 a time and bigger cars VND50,000.


The fee is not imposed on public buses and state vehicles, but travelers in taxi cabs have to pay.


ITD said the fee will make car owners consider changing their directions or switching to public means of transport.


It will reduce around 40 percent of cars coming into the city center and 20 percent is already a success in many countries, the firm said.


The plan asks for a fund of nearly VND1.2 trillion (nearly US$57.6 million), including more than VND1 trillion for equipment, saying that the toll fees will pay back the investment in two years.


Lam Thieu Quan, general director of ITD, said the plan will also save time and money wasted in traffic jams.


But there're still several concerns about the plan.


Some officials do not feel confidant that the fees are high enough to discourage rich people at luxury apartment buildings in the city center.


Others, meanwhile, said that roads around the charged areas will be crowded as cars will turn there to avoid the fees.


But Quan told the Tuoi Tre on Saturday that the fee collection will only be started after several streets under construction in the area are finished.


The city Transport Department has asked the city government to open the plan for opinions.


If approved, the plan will be carried out in six months and cars will start paying the fees next year.


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