Commuter insights: uncovering unknown transport modes in Bangkok

Our latest white paper, understanding the mobility ground truth in Bangkok, explores the 16 public transport modes that people in the Thai capital use to get around. One of those modes is canal boats, used to travel along and across the city’s khlongs.

Canal boat passengers on the Mae Nam Chao Phraya River

Canal boats are typically used by commuters to reach the suburbs during peak hours, running on the Saen Saeb canal — the longest in Bangkok — as well as other smaller canals.

Data collection work in the city, as well as the research that informed the recent launch of our consumer app Rumbo, brought a less common canal boat option to light. Our team on the ground found a canal boat service that had been in operation for more than ten years, going back and forth on a wider stretch of the Samrong canal, and saving locals valuable time by providing an alternative to the next nearest bridge.

⛴ Location of the canal boat service across Samrong canal

With defined operating hours, including what our local team light-heartedly refer to as a ‘siesta break’ between 12:00–14:00, this canal boat serves as a brief but direct route between two populated areas. Without this connection, those who can would have to walk an extra half mile, and with heat and humidity causing citizens to prioritise short trips, that’s not an option most take.

The canal boat in operation

People travelling across the canal pay to use the service, which is operated manually by pulling on overhead ropes. While other canal boats in Bangkok are covered, providing commuters with shelter from the rain and sun, the informal Samrong crossing is not, making it a risky choice for the rainy season!

Uncovering informal modes like these is a crucial part of our mission at WhereIsMyTransport. Digitalising complete network information means every mode of public transport of every operational style, turning local knowledge into data that helps people understand movement and place in Bangkok.

Discover more about how people travel around Bangkok in our white paper.

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