Hanoi’s Transport Department is considering allowing coach stations in the city to open at night to ease overcrowding.
Coaches mix with regular auto vehicles outside of Giap Bat station in Hanoi on January 29, when people flock back into the city after Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday ends.
Vice director of the department Vu Ha told Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that the extended hours would give passengers more options and further make use of the stations’ facilities.
Now, coach passengers arrive and leave Hanoi at six stations. Nuoc Ngam station opens from 5am to midnight, Giap Bat Station opens from 5am to 8pm, My Dinh Station opens from 5am to 11.45pm, Gia Lam Station opens from 6am to 11pm, Yen Nghia Station opens from 6am to 9.45pm, and Son Tay Station opens from 6am to 7pm. The stations are still willing to receive coaches that arrive later.
There are 980 vehicles leaving the stations from 7pm to 6am of the following day.
“Night coach trips are normal in Hanoi’s passenger transportation,” Ha said, adding that extended hours could help people travel and reduce overcrowding during rush hours.
The department was also considering allowing vehicles on short trips to leave stations after midnight, Ha said.
However, some have raised objections to the proposal.
Bui Danh Lien, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi Transport Association, said that passengers travelling short distances usually chose coaches which left stations early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Coaches usually entered and left stations during these hours, causing traffic congestion.
“However, now passenger numbers have dropped sharply, and some stations are operating at 60 percent capacity,” Lien said, blaming traffic congestion on coaches that intentionally moved slowly or delayed leaving the stations in the hope of getting more passengers.
Lien said that three years ago, Hanoi authorities worked hard to monitor and develop reasonable schemes for inter-province coaches coming and leaving the city.
“If the Transport Department now allows the extended hours, increased night coaches could mean changes for transport firms,” he said.
Extended hours would require extra services and staff to ensure a hygiene and security, he said.
Le Dinh Dung, Director of Ha Son-Hai Van Coach Company, said that coaches running long-distances or to tourist destinations preferred to leave stations after midnight. However, many passengers were wary of travelling at night due to safety concerns.
Nguyen Anh Bao, Director of Dai Phat Joint Stock Company, said the company’s coaches on the Hanoi- Da Nang Route had to leave Giap Bat Station every 30 minutes.
“We have few passengers, so we want our coaches to stay at the station for longer than 30 minutes,” he said.
“Coaches on long-distance trips leaving the station in the daytime or at night need at least one hour to stop at the station and collect passengers,” he said.
A representative from a transport firm in Hanoi told Vietnam News Agency that inter-province coach operators were struggling with falling passenger numbers.
“It’s a fact that stations are short of passengers, not short of coaches,” he said, adding that offering more trips at night while the passenger numbers remained low, could push coach operators to bankruptcy./.VNS