Beating the Bangkok traffic
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Beating the Bangkok traffic

Being on the road for an average of two hours a day has never been pleasant but that's what many people in Bangkok, including myself, have to face on a daily basis. Thanks to the motorways, the duration of time we spend on the road has slightly decreased, but there is no guarantee that tollway traffic is always better.

At a traffic management forum last month, it was good to hear Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra propose several ways of tackling traffic-related problems, including the introduction of fines for vehicles that park along roads, which causes congestion in business districts; and higher fees at parking lots in central Bangkok to encourage drivers to leave their vehicles at home and use public transport. Most interestingly, one of his traffic control measures included a new protocol for buying cars. He suggested that the purchase of new vehicles should only be allowed if the buyer could prove that they had proper parking for it.

All these, however, are just ideas. The governor didn't mention when they would be put into use.

When it comes to curing traffic headaches, similar means have been implemented in developed cities across the world and the results have been very effective. London, for example, has a congestion charge, meaning drivers have to pay a fee when entering specific zones at certain times of the day.

Let's not forget, however, that London can do that because the city has a proper public transport system in place.

The protocol of purchasing a new car only when one can find a parking space has been used in Japan. But just like London, we all know that the Land of the Rising Sun is one of the countries that is equipped with the best railway system in the world.

The regulation on new car purchases would, nonetheless, benefit long-term solutions, as, at least in the future, it could reduce the number of vehicles occupying public places. Fingers crossed. But on the other hand, if there are no better alternatives in terms of public transportation when the policy is launched, people would still seek to buy vehicles. If such a restriction is to be implemented, the most important thing is that the city must first offer its commuters an alternative.

For example, the congestion charge or increased parking fees in the heart of the city could be enforced. People who dare driving into specific areas or park their vehicles in central Bangkok could be charged a higher price. The fees collected could be used to improved the public transportation system.

To encourage people to use public transport, parking spaces at railway interchanges or BTS stations like Mo Chit should also sufficiently be provided at no or low cost. Time and money that commuters can save might be good incentives for them to ditch their cars.

So, to fix the traffic problem in the city, it all comes down to a good and well-connected public transportation network.

If the people of Bangkok had a well-designed railway system like that in London or Japan, they would be more hesitant to use their cars and the system for purchasing new vehicles might not even be necessary. 

Pattramon Sukprasert is a feature writer of the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Pattramon Sukprasert

Feature writer

Pattramon Sukprasert is a feature writer for Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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