Message to the Next Bangkok Governor

February 22, 2022


It has been nine years since Bangkok last elected a governor. This year, it is expected the long-awaited election date will be in May. Future policies, management and the growth of the city will be determined. Yet, from the property and urban development perspective, there are a series of improvements or changes we wish to see happen sooner rather than later, all having to do with improving Bangkokians’ quality of life. 

Let’s start with the infrastructure network and transportation. The network, connection and fares are the key factors to increase mass transit ridership. It is clear the network, both new roads and new train lines, has been growing well across the city. However, there have been concerns about the mass transit fare that could cost over THB 200 round trip per day, representing most of the earnings of citizens with average income. Negotiations and subsidies between the governing body and the operators will be needed to lower the fare, helping passengers on their daily commutes. As the network expands with various operators, smoother and more harmonized transitions between different line operators will also be needed to facilitate greater efficiency and better travel experiences for customers. 

In relation to the mass transit lines, there has been a lot of discussion of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in the past few years but not a lot has actually happened. With the completion of Bang Sue Grand Station and new interchange stations across Bangkok, there is potential to develop TOD projects with correct incentives and collaborations. The Osaka Station has been the poster child for TOD  that Thailand wants to imitate but nothing has come close to that so far, only a series of standalone buildings surrounding the interchange stations with little synergy. TOD, if done correctly, would help create new nodes for real estate development and promote public transportation over car use.

There are a lot of more basic requirements that will directly impact the quality of life of the people. Recently, there have been social movements to improve the pedestrian crossings and the law related to it to be more pedestrian-favored rather than vehicle-favored. Taking telephone and electricity wires underground has been slow to implement and involves multiple different agencies, but if done properly, will allow trees to remain alongside roads, which are currently often being cut down. The sky-walkways and minesweeper-like pedestrian walkways or footpaths that seem to be less and less friendly to walk on every day causing people to look at the ground instead of looking up and ahead require urgent and committed improvement. Functional pocket parks that focus on daily uses for the community rather than a one-time attraction would increase the livability of the area, utilizing the vacant pieces of land that are scattered around Bangkok. Cleanliness of the city, quality and hygiene of food, air and water in every aspect should be improved. The amendment of obsolete laws and regulations as well as the law enforcement especially those related to the environment and sustainability should also be seriously implemented.

We are still so far away from Bangkok’s motto of “built by the angels” but there are ways to get there and the new election in May could be the start of that. Yet, what will be said, advertised and promised is one thing, executing it after getting elected is a totally different story.

An article written by Patchaya Potiratsombat, Analyst, Research and Consulting, CBRE Thailand for Bangkok Post dated 22 February 2021.