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A New Urban Transport System Initiative for Betterment of Vientiane

Source: Vientiane Times

The Vientiane Sustainable Urban Transport Project (VSUTP) initiated by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) in partnership with development partners is expected to reduce traffic congestion, lower air pollution levels, resolve the lack of parking facilities and reduce road accidents in the Lao capital.

The ministry’s move is aimed at finding solutions to challenges that have arisen from consistent urban growth and an increase in the number of vehicles on the capital’s streets. 

MPWT has partnered with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Investment Bank (EIB), European Union’s Asian Investment Facility (EU-IF), OPEC Fund, and Global Environment Fund (GEF) to design a public mass transport and urban management system collectively known as the VSUTP. This system has the potential to significantly reduce congestion, lower air pollution levels, resolve the lack of parking facilities and reduce road accidents in Vientiane.

VSUTP is structured to help the government achieve its goal of improving living conditions in the capital for residents – families, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities. It will also result in an environmentally sustainable and pedestrian-friendly Vientiane that will boost the local economy and make it more appealing to visitors and tourists. 

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This will in turn boost living standards for residents and increase profitability by reinvigorating businesses within the capital’s central business district.
VSUTP is centered around the creation of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system – an internationally proven public mass transport system that has been successfully established in major cities across the world, including Guangzhou, Jakarta, Brisbane, and Mexico City. 

A fleet of environmentally friendly electric busses will traverse the 12.9 km bus-only lanes from Chao Fa Ngum Park to Talat Sao, and Patuxay through to Dongdok. There will be 27 stations along the route. 

Fares will be deducted from prepaid smartcards at automatic fare-collection gates at each station.  Stations will be equipped with real-time bus arrival information to help commuters plan their trips. 

The project includes the pedestrianisation of a section of Setthathirath Road, from the Khounbulom intersection to the recently restored Nam Phu Park, to significantly upgrade the curb appeal in the area and reduce both carbon emissions and noise pollution. This will create a safer, more user-friendly environment that will potentially increase revenues by as much as 40 percent for businesses along this stretch, as seen in many major cities throughout the world and Asia, including Jakarta, Hanoi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. 

This section will only be accessible to BRT buses, emergency vehicles, and e-pedicabs.

Commuters concerned about getting from BRT stations to their final destination will be pleased to know that a fleet of e-pedicabs will be deployed in these areas to ease their fears.  These eco-friendly and affordable solutions are designed to transport passengers comfortably and are the latest in short-distance transportation solutions gaining popularity today.

A modern parking management system will be implemented by VSUTP to eliminate unauthorized parking in Vientiane, which has contributed to increased congestion on the streets, especially within the Central Business District. 

Paid parking, managed through a mobile phone application, will replace the current erratic parking situation, and parking on sidewalks will be prohibited.
The municipal government will establish the Urban Transport Management Section (UTMS) under the Vientiane Department of Public Works and Transport to oversee and manage various components of the project.