Thailand’s traffic jams were rated the worst in the world by the INRIX survey. (Photo from Bangkok Post file)
There is big news for us Bangkokians and the town hall is expected to toast this week. Thailand, or Bangkok to be more precise, was once again ranked at the top of the global list.
According to a study released Monday by INRIX Inc – a Washington-based company that provides services and applications for road traffic, Thailand was ranked as the most congested country in the world in 2016.
Thai commuters spent an average of 61 hours stuck in traffic jams last year, followed by motorists in Colombia and Indonesia on average 47 hours.
Sirinya Wattanasukchai is Deputy Editor-in-Chief, The Bangkok Post.
The study found that of the 64.1 hours on average Bangkok drivers spent in traffic last year, about 23% of the total time and an average of 33% of their time was spent stuck. during peak hours, wasting considerable amounts of fuel in the process. . Based on the miles of car tail lights zigzagging on Bangkok’s highways and elevated roads, I can certainly see how the company’s Global Traffic Scorecard report based on 500 terabytes of data from 300 million sources at across the world was so reliable.
But I was disappointed when I learned the results of another study, TomTom’s Traffic Index 2017, published the same day by TomTom, a Dutch company providing a similar service. According to the annual report detailing the world’s cities with the worst traffic jams, Bangkok comes in second with 61%, after Mexico City, where drivers spent an average of 66% more travel time stuck in traffic at any time of the day. .
But should I be worried that we came in second? No. I’m sure Bangkok will be at the top of all the lists next year. to achieve this, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has been on the right track and made the right decision to discontinue the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service. It was a bold move, with low ridership and constant financial losses cited as reasons, without trying to improve service and, more importantly, to install a wider land public transport network to cover a most of Bangkok.
The BMA had to conduct an investigation on Tuesday to avoid embarrassment, after Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon unexpectedly told town hall to keep the service going, giving the BRT some breathing space.
However, if this is just a cosmetic investigation and the BMA is adamant that it is emptying the service without a suitable replacement to move the masses, that will only pave the way for the capital to maintain its championship position as the most congested city in the world.
Starting in November, a few places in the Lat Phrao area – including the Ratchayothin and five-lane Lat Phrao intersections – were closed for the construction of the Green Line for at least two years – without a proper plan to not make the situation worse. traffic jam.
Of course, the closures have definitely affected those who live in other more remote areas, including Don Muang and Rangsit, as well as thousands of people living in housing estates along Nawamin Road.
A friend of mine who lives on Vibhavadi Road accepts that morning trips to Chatuchak BTS station are longer, from 20 to 45 minutes normally to 40 minutes up to two hours. But he’s lucky he can spend the morning rush hour in a taxi. Another friend from Wang Hin’s neighborhood, who is lucky enough to have a car, only has to leave her house an hour early if she wants to spend 20 minutes, instead of an hour, driving a few kilometers to work at the Ratchayothin crossroads.
The two, among Bangkok’s millions of commuters, have no other choice but suffer the fate of being residents of the City of Angels where commuters, if they are lucky enough to own a car, are condemned to “live” in their air-conditioned environment. a few hours a day.
What authorities have done is warn commuters in the area to plan ahead and use the lanes to avoid these closures. But they have never taken into account those who take public buses or vans who can never avoid the closures of their routes. Can their bus drivers also use the alleys?
While waiting for the megaprojects to end, the authorities never planned to convince commuters to give up their cars or park them in the suburbs, by providing parking lots and shuttles to the city in a special lane.
Climbing to the top of the list has been tough, but with construction projects too, and no proper plan to tackle the millions of cars in the city, I have nothing to fear. I’m sure the BMA and the government will continue their good work – staying at the top of the list and increasing the average number of hours people are stranded on the roads a little more, leaving the rest of the world far behind.
Looks like I’ll have a good reason to celebrate again next year.
Sirinya Wattanasukchai is a columnist for the Bangkok Post.