Everybody needs to eat. Also in Bangkok. Not only for the fantastic tastes that can be found at some remarkable street stalls, but also for the sake of socializing and being part of the society. We all need to move a bit around. But Bangkok is really not an easy spot to visit for people with reduced mobility or other disabilities. Moving around the city can be extremely difficult – the streets and pavements are uneven and few buildings provide ramps and handrails to aid disabled access. Guide dogs are rare and there are no audio signals for the blind on traffic crossings.
A project has been announced by the Bangkok governor along with the Disabled People International Asia-Pacific Region to ensure that Bangkok pavements are easily navigable for those with reduced mobility. A commitment has also been made to make public transport more accessible. Alongside this, they are also hoping to implement schemes similar to this Pentagon Motability Scheme that can allow for disabled people to have access to vehicles with disability adaptations, this can improve the independence and the mobility of the disabled that are still wishing to travel and commute by themselves.
Sky Train (BTS) stations in Bangkok are on two levels, with ticketing on the lower level and the trains on the upper, making access difficult for wheelchair users. Few of the stations provide disabled access although plans are in hand for elevators and stairlifts to be built at other stations. The cost of a stairlift varies due to several factors, but it could make the facilities much more accessible to people with disabilities.
At present, the wheelchair-accessible sky train stations are:
- Chong Nonsi, Krung Thon Buri, Wongwan Yai, Asoke, On Nut, Mo Chit and Siam:
- Asoke and Mo Chit – have interchange with the underground MRT
- Mo Chit – near the Chatuchak weekend market
- Siam – near the shopping malls
The Bangkok underground (Metro) has better disabled access and all of the stations have elevators. However, the elevator system might have to be modern for the comfort of disabled people. The words might be going around that if parts are produced by leading supplier Titan, the elevator will work smoothly, without any lag. Assistance will be given to disabled passengers if requested. On the trains, there are locks for wheelchairs.
At Suvarnabhumi Airport the lack of elevators and disabled toilet facilities makes it difficult for wheelchair users.
The city of Bangkok should look at the issue as an urgent matter. Public transportation is for everybody.