Most people acknowledge that the infrastructure in Pattaya is improving all the time but one thing that these improvements can’t help with is the number of buses that enter Pattaya City itself. The problem has become increasingly worse over the past five years or so with a change in the demographics of those coming to the resort town for holidays – primarily coach parties organised by Chinese tour companies.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with a coach, it is a chartered bus that can either be a single or a double-decker (1 or 2 floors) and ordinarily, carry 49 passengers. Coaches are usually 12-15 metres in length or the equivalent of 3-4 cars in length.
It has now become so bad that almost all downtown areas are affected. Although the problems are worse in the mornings and evenings it has noticeable throughout the day.
At the end of Pratamnak Soi 6 where few buses go, seaview 2 bedroom for sale at a good price
Pattaya Beach Road is particularly bad in the mornings with tourist being brought to the seafront to take speedboats across to Koh Larn. Pratamnak and Naklua are also seriously affected demonstrating that the problem isn’t just limited to Central Pattaya. Often the driving by these coach drivers can be somewhat reckless and has caused numerous accidents over the years and indeed, they happen on a frequent basis.
Obviously, Pattaya actively encourages these tourists to visit the city so there is a fine balancing act constantly taking place. Almost every business in Pattaya relies upon tourism to some extent either directly or indirectly. However, there is a danger that the congestion on the city’s roads that is caused by buses could start to negatively impact on other groups coming on holiday, not to mention the locals and expats who live and work in the city.
So, what needs to be done to address the problem? Naturally, the problem has been identified by everyone but what needs to be done about it is not so easy. Some solutions are simply not practical whilst others will take years to fully implement so are again not really viable solutions. The goal must surely be to seriously reduce or even stop the number of buses that are entering the city itself at peak periods and weekends.
Whatever long-term solutions City Hall decides upon will require some serious investment. State-of-the-art infrastructure will be needed in order to address the problem. This is unlikely to be decided at City Hall level and will almost certainly need central government approval.
Outside the tourist routes, great value rental for a 2 bedroom house
Overseas investment and also assistance will also be beneficial to ensure that the city gets exactly the correct solution. It will be important that open and honest discussions take place and that all parties bringing their suggestions to the table including tour operators.
Other countries and cities have managed to find solutions so it stands to reason that Pattaya can too. If we take Bangkok, for example, this is a city that has serious problems with congestion albeit not being caused by buses or huge influxes of tourist and they have solutions that have improved, if not removed the situation. In Bangkok, they have the Skytrain (BTS) and Underground Metro (MRT) which would take years to implement but something similar could be a long-term solution.
Something that may be easier and quicker to implement would be some form of park and ride scheme. However, as these schemes often rely on buses to ferry people to and from central areas this may not be ideal. An alternative would be to introduce a tram system similar to ones used in some UK cities such as Manchester and Sheffield. Each tram can carry hundreds of people at once and could run on lines adjacent to main roads, therefore, reducing congestions for other vehicles.
Conveniently located stops could be placed at the northern and southern ends of Sukhumvit Road as well as at the junction for Soi Chiayapruek. These are all places where suitable amounts of land could be sourced for large car parks keeping buses out of the city.
Less than 30,000Baht/sqm, in a quiet residence in Jomtien
Obviously, the trams would only be able to stop at these stations which would remove the problem that we experience with baht buses stopping anywhere causing further congestion. Baht buses could also be used to ferry tourists from these stations to their final destinations.
There are, of course, other additional short-term solutions that, with the proper policing, would help to reduce the congestion on Pattaya’s roads caused by the buses. For example, bans could be put in place stopping the buses from using some small roads as well ensuring that drivers only park in appropriate places. Using the air conditioning should be forbidden when parked to help reduce noise pollution.
Having some form of mass transit transport system has been mooted for some time with most agreeing that it would be a good idea. Along with the obvious reduction in congestion, there would also be the environmental benefits such as reduced pollution. Many of the buses that are on Pattaya’s roads emitted large quantities of exhaust fumes that can contain carbon monoxide and other noxious gases.
The most resistance to these plans has come, not surprisingly, from baht bus drivers fearing for their livelihood. However, if the objective was to remove buses from Pattaya’s roads the effect on these drivers is likely to be minimal. Potentially, a park and ride scheme with trams or the such like taking buses off the roads could be beneficial for the baht bus drivers as the roads would be less congested and people may be more inclined to go to central areas.
These types of mass transit system would undoubtedly take years to implement and would need serious planning to ensure that they solved all the problems and didn’t create new ones. We have seen with the road network around Terminal 21 and the problems that have been experienced around there that road planning needs serious thought. Short-termism or choosing the cheapest option is likely to create more problems in future.
What the short-term solutions are whilst a mass transit system is under construction is quite difficult. Simply banning buses at peak periods and weekends is likely to alienate businesses and tourists. Restrictions do need to be imposed with perhaps alternative routes and time restrictions such as ‘slots’ being brought. The latter option would rely heavily on creating and imposing a strict timetable which may be against the culture in Thailand.
To conclude, everyone recognises that there is an issue with buses plaguing Pattaya’s roads. To avoid alienating any parties, or at least as few as possible, a combination of solutions probably needs to be used. Some will provide long-term solutions such as the mass transit transport systems whilst others will be short-term trying to reduce if not solve the problem entirely whilst the long-term solutions are constructed. Whatever options are decided upon, careful planning is the order of the day. Pattaya will be far a pleasanter place to visit and live if the problems with buses are properly addressed.