Yangon Crossroads: A Roadmap for Avoiding Bangkok’s Transportation Planning Mistakes

Yangon, Myanmar

There is little doubt that if current trends continue, motorization in the developing world will lead to a mobility crisis. Current projections for population growth, increases in GDP per capita, and increasing motorization show that unless there are major interventions, many cities in the developing world will soon be paralyzed by congestion. This trend raises serious environmental, economic, and social equity concerns. Despite the obvious negative consequences, motorization is increasing due to poor planning choices, ad hoc urban development, and a global culture that perceives the private vehicle as a status symbol.


This paper examines two Southeast Asian cities—critiquing past policies and making recommendations for the future. Bangkok is widely regarded as one of the most congested cities in the world for a variety of reasons including a lack of coordinated long-term planning, heavy focus on expressway projects at the expense of public transit, and deeply systemic institutional and political mismanagement. Yangon, the former capital and largest city in Myanmar (Burma), is in the early stages of a period of rapid economic growth that will determine the livability of the city for decades to come.