Such congestions will be due to the lack of mitigation policies, particularly pertaining to land use and transportation (Hokao & Mohamed,1999). Thailands urban centre, Bangkok, is one good focus in analyzing the conditions of urban transportation in Developing countries. Bangkok began in 1782 as a settlement on the bank of the Chao Phraya, and this area soon became the center of the citys government and religious institutions (Wyatt, 1995: n. p. ). Bangkok Metropolis has an area of 1,569 sq km (606 sq mi), which restricts it to utilize much of the land for the construction of roads.
Bangkok is barely above sea-level, making it subject to frequent flooding, in addition to the 60 inches of precipitation it receives every year. Chao Phraya River is just one of the major waterways in Thailand, which is still currently used as a route for transport within the city. However, some of the canals have been filled in order to accommodate the construction of roads (Wyatt, 2005). The Bangkok Metropolis modes of transportation barely meet the demands of its 9 million daytime populations.
Sixty-five percent of the city population relies on public transportation, more specifically the city buses, metered taxis, the Skytrain, the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) subway, and the tuk-tuks. The Skytrain has a capacity of 700,000 passengers per day, and is situated along the Silom and Sukhumvit, two of the most frequently congested roads in Bangkok. The MRT is a Thai-foreign venture whose construction commenced in 1997, and approximates a capacity of 80,000 passengers per hour.
The Tuk-tuks are the Thai version of the canopied tricycle, and are public utility vehicles that can accommodate up to three persons per trip (Tuktuks, Bangkok, n. d. ). The mass transit system includes both buses and trains (Infrastructure: Highways, 2004). Although there are existing public transportation systems, the increase of the number of private car ownership doesnt seem to wane. According to a study conducted by Du Pont and Egan (1997), such increase in ownership can be attributed to the inadequacy of Bangkoks mass transit system.
The rate of the development of infrastructures simply cannot keep up with such a rapid pace of motorization, therefore, this results in intolerable traffic jams in the city (Gakenheimer, 1997). One problem causing the endless traffic congestion in Bangkok is the proportion of road area to the number of vehicles traversing the roads everyday. Only 8% of Bangkoks land area (roughly 625 sq km) has been used for roads, which is obviously insufficient to accommodate its 2 million vehicles (Du Pont & Egan, 1997).
Poboon et al. (1994) conclude that: Traffic jams in Bangkok are therefore inevitable because they are attempting to carry too little passenger travel on public transport relative to their provision of roads (as cited in Du Pont & Egan, 1997).
The inefficient city planning that failed to provide secondary routes from the major arteries within the city cause traffic to be as slow as an average of 6-10 kph in the central business district. Such inefficiency results in an annual loss of $9.6 billion, simply because an estimated 44 days in productivity is lost in exchange for travel time (as cited in Du Pont & Egan, 1997). Not only does congestion account for the financial losses of the city, it also aggravates air pollution. In 1990, it has been estimated that 8-hour exposure at street level is equivalent to smoking 9 cigarettes per day, and that such levels of pollutants have exceeded the safety guidelines set by the World Health Organization (as cited in Du Pont & Egan, 1997).
GOVERNMENT PROJECTS AND IMPLEMENTATION The government has prioritized the Bangkok traffic issues, and several commissions have been institutionalized to deal with these issues, most of which had been unsuccessful (ASEM Bangkok, 1996). More than 30 government agencies are responsible for transport and urban development of Bangkok, but the implementation of transport and land-use plans are carried out by 11 agencies which fall under two ministries ” Interior and Transport & Communications (Du Pont & Egan, 1997).