Third World Mass Transit? You Wish!

Dave Killion — March 21, 2012


Over at EconLog, David Henderson shares some of his impressions of the Thai economy from  his recent 10-day trip. I was particularly interested in this –


“The transportation system is highly efficient. The Song Tows get you from point A to B for, typically, 20 baht, which is about 67 cents. You hail a Song Tow by holding out your hand, he stops and you tell him where you want to go, he quickly assesses whether that works in light of the commitments he’s made to his current passengers, and, if he says yes (he typically did), you get in the back on one of two parallel benches facing each other. With the Tuk-Tuk, essentially a motorized tricycle, you are the only passengers. You tell the driver your destination and the price is typically 150 baht or $5. You can fit 3 passengers, or, in a pinch, 4 passengers in one Tuk-Tuk. 

If our local governments allowed such transportation, some people, especially young people, would probably do without cars.”

Agreed. Unfortunately, public transit here is dominated by those special interests created by BC Transit (a provincial crown agency, i.e. monopoly) and the local taxi cartel, so we won’t be seeing any innovation any time soon.

Also, as Henderson was a tourist, he might have been paying above the actual going rate for locals. If so, that would mean the system is even more efficient than it appears.

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