Middle‐class Travel Patterns, Predispositions and Attitudes, and Present‐day Transport Policy in Bangkok, Thailand

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - surveys, land use - planning, ridership - mode choice, ridership - attitudes, place - urban, mode - mass transit


Urban transportation policy, Under developed countries, Travel surveys, Travel patterns, Travel behavior, Transit, Third world, Public transit, Mode choice, Modal choice, Mobility, Middle income groups, Mental attitudes, Mass transit, Local transit, Less developed countries, Land use planning, Developing countries, Choice of transportation, Bangkok (Thailand), Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel, Automobile ownership, Attitudes


Middle-class expansion and new consumption patterns have increasingly become an important focus of studies of the development and change in newly industrialized and middle-income-developing East and South East Asian countries. However, there is still a dearth of studies in the literature particularly focusing on middle-class travel patterns, predispositions and transport policy preferences. Nor have the implications of these factors on current transport and land development policy been examined. The present exploratory study addresses this gap by examining three cases in Bangkok, Thailand, which in recent decades witnessed dramatic middle-class expansion, an increase in private motor vehicle population, and spatial diffusion of middle-class residences into lower-density zones in the suburbs. By mainly employing a survey method of data-gathering and quantitative research analysis, the paper discusses the following findings: (1) that middle-class travel behaviour is characterized by a high dependence on private motor vehicle travel and 'inward commuting'; (2) that middle-class preferences for transport mode and attitudes about remedial policy options are generally protective of their members' car-dependence and ownership; and (3) that present policy measures of the Thai government on Bangkok transport perfectly fit and support exclusively middle- and upper-class predispositions and stakes in mobility. These findings in a developing country city basically follow a similar profile to be found in middle-class-dominant transport patterns and urban form in a number of North American cities. This paper further argues that in a developing country city such as Bangkok, where marked social differentiation and the combined population of poor and low-income classes still comprise almost half of the urban social landscape despite an expanding middle-class, an adequate and good public transport system that also meets the former's need for efficient mobility is an imperative.