Vietnam, a country with a population of 90 million is still developing. Recently, the country’s two- digit economic growth rate and a stable political environment have helped to draw lots of investment, which contributes to the improvement of its infrastructure. Transport system is one of major elements of a country’s infrastructures. A good transport system will not only speed up the circulation of goods and services, but it will also raise the people’s quality of life. To Vietnam’s national planners, building a developed transport system which works effectively for a long term is critically important.

Not far away from Vietnam, in the South China Sea lies Taiwan, a small island with an amazing economic development. This high income country has a developed transport system which is a good case for any national planners to examine in order to sketch out and implement plans for improving a country’s transport system. 

In this essay, I’m going to examine the operation of Taiwan’s mass rapid transit (MRT) system in order to implement this means of transport to Vietnam. 

In presence, there are two MRT systems operated in two metropolitan cities Taipei and Kaohsiung. MRT stations are located everywhere around the city, connecting almost all the popular spots. In Taipei city, the MRT proves its convenience and efficiency to serve a large number of users.  Taipei MRT ridership has averaged 1.76 million per day, which helps to reduce traffic jam and congestion in many rush hours in this metropolitan city. It’s also convenient for tourists who want to have a tour around this city because most of the stations are located near the sightseeing spots. Also, there are instructions demonstrated in many languages, which are favorable for tourists not speaking Chinese.

In spite of the success of the MRT system in Taipei, its counterpart in Kaohsiung does not turn out the same.  Since 2008, when it was put into operation, it continues making losses because the revenue from its regular users can’t be able to cover the operation costs. This is mainly because Kaohsiung residents still prefer to rely on cars or scooters when they go out.

That’s the story in Taiwan, so what about in Vietnam?

Suppose that Vietnam has all the resources required to build and put this means of transport into operation, an effective MRT system will help to tackle some current transport as well as environmental problems. It will also bring some kind of profit for the operators, as long as these following things are taken into consideration.

  1.  A large number of students will be regular passengers. Taking Ho Chi Minh City as an example, there are about 320,000 students going to schools located within the city. Most of them are using buses to travel to school. However, the number of buses is not enough to well serve this increasing number of students. Therefore, overcrowding buses which are good places for pickpockets and congestions during rush hours are always irritating problems for students who regularly use buses to school.
  2. The demographic structure of Vietnam is quite different from that of Taiwan. In Vietnam, the population is young; and most of them have middle income. Therefore, buses and motorbikes are their major means of transport. For office workers and laborers who also account for a large portion of traffic participants, they are very loyal to motorbikes. In order for the MRT system to operate successfully and profitably, these people should be encouraged to switch from motorbikes to MRT. If this is effectively implemented, many problems such as lack of parking spaces in the city centers or air pollution will be effectively solved. Also, there will be less traffic jams in rush hour, which still remains a primary goal that many town planners are seeking to achieve.

On the other hand, if we fail to persuade these motorbike-lovers to use MRT, it might result in a financial loss, similar to the case in Kaohsiung.

  1. The success of the MRT system is not only attributed to its high quality engine but also its excellent service.  Taiwan MRT practices a superb customer service. It’s easy to get information of departure times and destinations which is available in many foreign languages at information desks in the stations.  Moreover, on the one hand, service staffs also strive to help customers in need.  On the other hand, they are very strict to deal with passengers who disobey the train’s regulations. There is no acceptable excuse because all the regulations are made clear and visible once you get to the MRT stations in Taiwan. This practice not only brings more comfort to passengers but it also helps to maintain the train’s quality.

It will definitely take time and efforts for Vietnamese transport operators to provide such a good service as the one in Taiwan because of its deep-rooted bureaucratic management.

According to Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá, A developed country is not a country where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation. When will the public transport system in Vietnam be improved to such a high quality that everyone is pleased to rely on? Given the country’s current economic development, it’s not the matter of time. It’s just the matter of how the authorities plan and implement the good of other countries into their own system. 

References: http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/metros/taiwan-transit-in-transition.html

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