Improving Bangkok's bus network

The quality and standards of Bangkok buses do nothing to attract new commuters. (Bangkok Post file photo)

It seems the words of Thucydides, a Greek war historian, surprisingly hold true on the roads of Bangkok: "The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." The middle class is in a position to choose whether to use a private car as long as the public transport system does not serve their needs, while the low-income population is left stranded -- sometimes literally -- with low-quality scheduled bus services.

On the road, the strong also have to suffer what the weak endure. The more people turn away from the public bus, the more cars on the streets, thus increasing traffic congestion, polluting the environment, collectively worsening the city's mobility, and affecting motorists and public bus users alike.

An obvious solution, therefore, is to persuade private car users to use the public transport network, especially public bus services. An intended shift to rail system notwithstanding, if designed effectively, and a more efficient public bus network would be the main factor in increasing the city's mobility. But the public bus network, with its higher flexibility and lower construction, maintenance and operation costs, might be more suitable for connecting Bangkok's low-density suburbs to dense urban areas, where an expensive rail network would bury itself in financial losses.

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