Update: 09:44 | 31/10/2022
In recent months Gia Linh has picked up a new habit: hopping on the Cat Linh – Ha Dong metro train two days a week to go to school.
The 23-year-old says: "It is fast and convenient. I get to escape from the dust and smoke of vehicles below. The views are great too."
Passengers sit on the Cat Linh – Ha Dong Metro in Hanoi in October 2022.
She only pays VND9,000 ($0.36) for a trip, which she says is a quarter of what ride-hailing services cost.
"I have to walk for more than two kilometers, but it is not a big hassle."
Linh is among 6.5 million passengers who have used Hanoi’s metro trains in the nearly 12 months since they began operation, with many using them for their daily commute to free themselves from the city’s heavy traffic.
The metro, which began operation after 10 years of construction amid delays and other difficulties, seems to have finally convinced the public that it is affordable and reliable.
Vu Hong Truong, the CEO of Hanoi Metro, said a large number of passengers travel at 7-8.30 a.m. and 5.30-6 p.m., most of them workers and students.
On October 3 there were a record 31,000 passengers, 70% of them season-ticket holders, he told reporters recently, pointing out there were only 8,000 passengers a day in November last year when it began.
The decline of Covid is one reason for the increase as also the start of the new school year, he added.
Minh Ha in the downtown district of Dong Da stopped riding her motorbike to work four months ago and instead uses the train and a folding bicycle.
"A paratransit network is yet to be established, so I prefer to ride my bike to ensure I get to work on time."
A season ticket is only VND200,000 a month, 50% of the fuel cost of using her motorbike.
Noticing a spurt in the number of users, the Hanoi Metro in September added two new trains and increased the frequency during rush hour to once every six minutes from the earlier 10 minutes.
During the National Day holiday on September 2 some 55,000 people used the trains, which run through 12 stations on the 13-kilometer route.
Truong said a survey of passengers found that 18% of them own cars but still use the metro, indicating it is gradually becoming a favorite means of transport in the city of 8.3 million.
The Cat Linh – Ha Dong trains however only meet the needs of a small number of commuters but more lines are either under construction or planned.
The city plans to have a total of 10 routes by 2030 with a total length of 417 kilometers, but only the Nhon-Hanoi Railway Station line is being built now.
Truong said that the city needs to improve its first- and last-mile bus connectivity to make the metro more accessible to the invalids.
Linh plans to use the metro whenever she can and in fact says: "I wish it could be longer so I can travel to other parts of the city."