The Ministry of Transportation (MOT) of Vietnam recently published standards and regulations designed to make public transportation more accessible to riders with disabilities. These new standards are the direct result of collaboration between the MOT and VNAH, as part of a USAID-funded disability program in Vietnam during 2004 and 2005.
The new set of accessibility standards for public transport provides specifications for making the buses and vehicles accessible to passengers with disabilities, including the requirement that public city bus services be accessible to users with disabilities.
Other achievements include the strategic recommendations for future development of accessible transport in Vietnam. The MOT has also ordered one of the largest bus manufacturers in Vietnam to develop designs for the production of accessible buses. During the project period, the MOT provided training seminars on accessible transport for several hundred transport officials throughout the country. As a result, MOT has reported that understanding and awareness of accessibility issues among transport authorities has significantly increased.
All these efforts have begun to bring real benefits to people with disabilities. In April, the bus services in Ho Chi Minh City will no longer charge a fee for riders with disabilities.
Under the current "Inclusion of Vietnamese with Disabilities Project" funded by USAID for the period 2006-2008, the MOT is working with the Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi Departments of Transportation and VNAH to implement accessible pilot bus routes in the cities. They are also proposing to the Government of Vietnam a project designed to further promote accessibility in public transport, including the accessibility of rail service.
Additionally, the University of Transportation in Hanoi has agreed to work with VNAH to adopt accessible transport in their formal training program. Work is underway to develop the training curriculum for the university. MOT and VNAH also worked to promote accessibility issues in the Bus Rapid Transit system in Hanoi -- a high-volume, city bus service funded by the World Bank.
VNAH has received invaluable technical assistance from various international experts, including Tom Rickert of Access Exchange International (www.globalride-sf.org) based in San Francisco and Kit Mitchell from the UK.