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Passenger transport in Thailand - statistics & facts

In Thailand, there are various modes of passenger transport available, from buses, trains, boats, ferries, and car taxis to motorcycle taxis, tuk-tuks, and songthaew, which are pickups or trucks with wooden benches for passenger seats. Although commuters have various options to travel around, Thailand’s passenger transport network is dense and compacted instead of inclusive, especially in Bangkok. Commuters in the upcountry sometimes find it inconvenient to travel without private vehicles. The Thai transport authority has been pushing for a more organized transport system, expanding the network, and investing more in transport solutions. Since 2016, the budget expenditure of the Ministry of Transport had been increasing up until 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The dense public transportation network in Bangkok

With a population of more than ten million, Bangkok has an extensive public transportation network. Bangkok residents enjoy the convenience of a variety of public transport options, especially in the city center. As of May 2021, approximately three thousand public buses are operating under Bangkok Mass Transit Authority in Bangkok and its suburban provinces. However, to avoid delays caused by road congestion, a lot of commuters opt for sky trains and subways, or even boats and ferries to cross to the other side of the city. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of railway public passengers in Bangkok and its perimeter amounted to over 1.2 million in a year. As for the number of BTS sky train commuters, it registered at around 734 thousand before the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, these numbers recently decreased drastically due to COVID-19 measures such as curfews.

Ride-hailing in Thailand

Apart from the conventional modes of public transport, ride-hailing options are also available in Thailand. However, ride-hailing is still a nascent segment in public transportation there. This service is still unable to compete with established registered taxis and licensed motorcycle taxi operators which can provide round-the-clock service due to their larger fleet sizes. As of May 2020, data collected by Grab, which operates the leading ride-hailing service in Thailand, revealed that its ride-hailing services GrabCar, Grabtaxi, and GrabDriveYourCar accounted for roughly 23 percent of the total services it provided in the country. Meanwhile, its services for food and parcel delivery were much more used, accounting for around 77 percent.

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