Traffic jams in Bangkok cost the economy 11 billion baht a year in lost opportunities while people spent 35 minutes more commuting in the capital this year that they did last year, according to a study.
Kasikorn Research Center estimated the cost of lost opportunities as a result of the congestion at 11 billion baht a year or 60 million a day based on the economic value people could have created if they were not stuck in cars.
The congestion affected the economy in three areas. First, the changes in lifestyle resulted in resource reallocation and a distorted picture of spending.
"More people turn to fast-food outlets near the Expressway or close to their offices instead of going to restaurants which take time to serve," it said.
People also opted for faster transport modes such as mass transit, motorcycle taxis and the expressway.
It also altered the mode of communication such as the type of devices, as well as shopping habits which shifted more online.
"The fact that a business stands to gain from the traffic congestion does not add to economic value as it was just a shift of money from one business to another," the study pointed out.
Second, the jams resulted in a higher energy cost to 6 billion baht a year, shouldered solely by commuters.
But from a wider perspective, it is not a zero-sum effect because energy businesses stand to gain from the change.
It also has a ripple effect since the higher travel costs encourage people to save more in other areas such as shopping, which in turn affects retailers.
Businesses that stand to gain from the congestions are certain types of transport services (mass transit and motorcycle taxis), car repairs and maintenance services, the Expressway, petrol stations, parking services, properties downtown or near mass transit lines, fast-food outlets near the Expressway or office buildings and communication devices.
The losers are public bus services, retail businesses, a la carte restaurants and entertainment businesses.
Third, the traffic jams also accelerate the need for infrastructure investment, which will add new money to the economy and benefit both businesses and people.