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Design Challenge (6): Bus Stop

posted Mar 20, 2017, 10:55 PM by Ratinan Lee   [ updated Mar 25, 2017, 1:15 AM ]
Firstly we have to understand the problems of Bangkok's public transportation system. Firstly, there are so many routes overlapping each other. Secondly, the fares are not affordable, so people need to think before taking one. Thirdly, there are several companies operating overlapping in the area with no central clearinghouse, so one ticket is not transferrable across... "vehicles" even in one company (except BTS Dark and Light Green Lines). Fourthly, most of the areas are not accessible by public transport (especially the networks of "soi"). That's terrible!

Anyway, let's see how the system can be developed. Here is one of the major route to go north from the main CBD. Map 01 shows the overlapping of bus no. 29 and 510 going north (with 538 going north, not overlapping but sharing the same destination). Moreover, both 29 and 510 are running under the MRT line for 7 km! That's not a good news. The roads within the MRT's service area should be dedicated to local buses and express buses only. And believe it or not 29 and 510 are both long-distance local buses which stop at every bus stop! OMG! That makes the journey in Bangkok so boring and time wasting!

Map 01

To solve the problem of bus no. 29, which runs from Hua Lamphong to Thammasat Rangsit. Hua Lamphong is now served by MRT Blue Line, that's not the problem (there could also be a linking bus that shortens the route from Siam to Hua Lamphong but that will be covered later). Thammasat Rangsit is too far to be covered on the map but to get there, it should be the express bus running from Chatuchak (N8 Mo Chit / CHA Chatuchak Park stations) to major hubs like Wat Samian Nari, Bang Khen, Lak Si, Don Mueang, etc. This will be talked later also. But, you see? This make the long rides much faster! To solve for bus no. 510, which runs from Victory Monument (N3 station) to Thammasat Rangsit. Well, this destination is also the same as bus no. 29's. It's overlapping! So, Map 01 can be just like this:

Map 02

More train routes should also be established. In fact, I don't understand the designer of the MRT routes, but for the people living in the northern part of Bangkok and the surrounding areas are not really benefit from this design. Today, people are transferring to/from buses at Victory Monument and Chatuchak Park (orange star in Map 03). With the new extension, people living by Phahon Yothin will be able to take the Light Green Line to the city right away (could easily transfer to Blue/Dark Green Lines), but people living along Wiphawadi Rangsit will have only unreliable SRT Red Line (not MRT, but a commuter train with longer interval) connecting to Bang Sue. This is not convenient because Bang Sue connects to only Blue Line for downtown. And well, Purple Line also "will" connect to only Blue Line for downtown. Obviously, people living along Wiphawadi Rangsit will still take buses to Chatuchak Park for better connections (downtown covered by the Light and Dark Green Lines), the same way as how people living along the Purple Line do today. And since SRT's Bang Sue is a huge station, if people need to walk a very long distance for making a connection (especially to Blue Line which is operated by BEM), people will not walk.

Map 03

You can see that there are so many problems in the design of the transportation for Bangkokers. In summary, I would like you to look at the following map:

Map 04

You can see (Map 04) that there are patterns of how people traveling to offices and back home. One of the best ways is to create designated BUS HUBS all around so people can use them to make connections with other major hubs and transfer to local buses. I know the area of the north of Bangkok, so Map 04 only covers the northern Bangkok's main hubs. If we have designated express buses from Victory Monument to Ngam Wong Wan and Pak Kret (only link the hubs, no local stops, take expressways), we can create a rapid bus experience and then let the people transfer from N3 Victory Monument to these buses and then make a fast ride back home. Same for N8 Mo Chit-CHA Chatuchak Park where people can transfer from both Light Green Line and Blue Line to the express buses. From this hub, the express buses can go directly without making local stops to Wat Samian Nari, Lak Si, Don Mueang, Sai Mai, Zeer Rangsit, Future Park Rangsit, Talat Thai, and so on. Taking this design of transportation modes, routes of bus no. 29, 39, 510, etc can be shortened, and then 510 and 538 can be eliminated since its route overlaps 29's.

From these hubs, let's take Don Mueang as an example (Map 05), we can introduce local buses from the hub center.

Map 05

Let's say we need 20 minutes on the express bus from Chatuchak hub to Wat Don Mueang, you can transfer to all these bus routes and reach home quickly.


And when we take traffic into consideration, then it's something very bad for everyone. Sometimes, it needs more than 60 to 90 minutes to reach Wat Don Mueang, especially Friday evening.

And well, for the areas covered by the MRT lines, like Phrom Phong in Map 06, we can take Phrom Phong Station as the hub for buses running in Phrom Phong MRT's service area. The buses that run along Sukhumvit Road must be eliminated, except long-distance express buses from other hubs. Well, it will be very similar to the Don Mueang's one. Anyway, one bus can reach few other MRT stations because the stations are quite close to each other in the downtown area. For those who need to go to somewhere just reachable on foot from MRT stations, they should be discouraged from taking the bus because the MRT is much more reliable. For those who, let's say, need to take the MRT for a distance of only one station and sit on the bus for another three stops, it could be better for them to sit on the bus from the origin for maybe seven to eight stops.

Map 06

Anyway, this problem seems to be unsolvable. For the early design of the bus stop sign that could also make Bangkokers' lives easier, I wish the bottom of the sign must be higher than 2 meters from the ground so everyone can read it at the same time, and the information must be ready in 2 scripts, Thai script and Latin alphabet.

And well, it has to be big enough and placed high, so no one has to wait for others to finish reading. Anyone can check the sign above their heads at the same time. Bus stop ID is increasingly more important since the mobile application is more popular every year, people could ask for the bus stop ID to be filled into the app to find the best route.

We can clearly see how useful is thew new design of the bus stop sign here.
People can now check the destinations conveniently here.

Why we need the destination there? Imagine you are just landed at DMK Airport for the first time and you need to take the bus to the city. You saw a sign leading you to the bus stop without saying where the buses go. You ended up taking the bus number 29 to Rangsit instead of Bangkok. Will you be happy?

And well, the most valuable information for those who are new to the area, the route information, must also be there. And for those who are in a rush, or need accurate estimation, the estimated arrival time must also be there! Hence, here is the complete bus stop design.

Thailand wants to be "Thailand 4.0", but its capital's bus stop looks like Thailand Well, without designs similar to this, Thailand will never reach "Thailand 2.0".