Skytrain’s future prospects will also be shaped by a crucial election on Sunday. Recent opinion polls show that former police-general Pongsapat Pongcharoen is poised to become Bangkok’s governor, aligning the city’s government with Thailand’s ruling Puea Thai Party. Since Bangkok’s annual municipal budget is a paltry $2 billion—less than half of the similarly sized Jakarta, and a tiny fraction of New York City’s $66 billion—the city is highly dependent on the national government for funding major infrastructure projects like Skytrain. Because he’s part of the ruling party, the city, and its transit network, should be getting a lot more government funding.
Bangkok has some of the world’s worst gridlock, with 7.5 million cars on roadways designed to accommodate a mere 1.4 million, not to mention uncountable motorcycle taxis, scooters, and tuk-tuks. By contrast, the Skytrain is quick, clean, and pleasant—as long as you don’t mind the blaring of endless commercial jingles to tempt shoppers into the city’s shopping malls.