Toyota Aims to Break Bangkok Gridlock
The Sathorn Model project was recently launched in Bangkok, Thailand, to combat the crippling traffic congestion in the area. Sathorn Road is one of Bangkok’s most trafficked thoroughfares with more than 350,000 people in over 150,000 vehicles passing through each day, making it one of the most congested roads in the world. Such congestion is estimated to cost Thailand an entire 0.1 percent of its GDP in wasted time, not even factoring in additional fuel costs and increased pollution, according to Toyota, which is spearheading the project.
As part of efforts spearheaded by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and supported by 200 leading companies in the automobile, energy, rubber, and chemical industries, this project was launched with the aim of solving problems related to city planning, environment and traffic. Other project cities are Indore, India; Chengdu, China; Campinas, Brazil; Lisbon, Portugal; and Hamburg, Germany.
The Sathorn Model consists of four pillars based on Toyota expertise gleaned from tests in Japan, according to the automaker:
1) School bus routes for area schools
State-of-the-art school buses equipped with the latest in IT and telematics will help students commute to school without being dropped off by car. One bus can take up to 12 vehicles off the road.
2) Park and Ride
Parking areas set up at city outskirts for commuters to park and take shuttle buses to mass transit rail stations. Park and ride use could reduce amount of vehicles on Sathorn Road during rush hour by 7 percent, or roughly 10,000 vehicles a day.
3) Flexible work starting hours
With the cooperation of local businesses, stagger starting working hours to shift and lessen peak rush hour traffic.
4) Traffic flow management system
With the cooperation of the Royal Thai Police, key intersections are monitored using a Toyota-developed traffic simulator to help reduce traffic obstacles and improve flow. This includes limiting student drop-off to one lane, increasing traffic flow speed by 30 percent.
The Sathorn Model project involves the cooperation and support of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Royal Thai Police and the Ministry of Transport. The test will run through 2015 with progress reports to be made in May and September 2015. The results of the project will contribute to sustainably reducing traffic jams in large cities all over the world, according to the automaker.