JICA to Help Ease Traffic Jams in Bangkok

REUTERS file photo
Cars are seen stuck in a traffic jam at Rama 9 road in Bangkok September 13, 2013.

BANGKOK (Jiji Press) — The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has launched in Bangkok a demonstration experiment of a traffic control system that eliminates manual signal operation, with the aim of easing the infamous traffic jams in the Thai capital.

The experiment, conducted in cooperation with the Bangkok metropolitan government and the Thai police, started in May.

Speaking at a ceremony last Monday, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt stressed the historic significance of the experiment and showed expectations for its success.

Manual signal operation is said to be one of the causes of severe traffic congestion in Bangkok. A traffic police officer in a hut at each intersection makes judgments based on camera images and visual observation and switches the signal on a control panel. Traffic lights are operated separately for each intersection and are not coordinated.

In the experiment, the Area Traffic Control system, which is also used in Japan, is introduced in an area surrounded by four roads in central Bangkok, with the distances of the surrounding roads totaling 8 kilometers. Vehicle detectors installed on the roads measure the traffic volume and the length of traffic jams, and based on the data, the traffic lights installed at 13 intersections and four crosswalks are automatically controlled. If successful, the system is expected to be introduced throughout Bangkok.

Serious traffic jams cause not only economic losses but also social problems such as delays in the arrival of emergency vehicles and air pollution.

At last Monday’s ceremony, Kazuya Suzuki, head of the JICA office in Thailand, said: “Easing traffic congestion will help improve the quality of life and reduce air pollution. We want to cooperate in making Bangkok a healthier and more comfortable city.”