Pattaya’s red-and-green punch line

Friday, 04 April 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 14 By  Nutsara Duangsri

More than three years after being installed, Pattaya’s pedestrian-crossing traffic lights remain one of the city’s biggest jokes.

City hall spent millions of baht in 2010 to install 42 traffic signals around the area. Drivers - including police - simply ignore the red lights. Four months later they officially were declared a failure, with the city turning them off or changing them to blink permanently yellow.

This tourist bus just drives straight through the red light without stopping as tourists wait to cross the road.This tourist bus just drives straight through the red light without stopping as tourists wait to cross the road.

The light outside the Holiday Inn Pattaya on Beach Road actually still works, however. Sontaya Naraipitak said it remains green all the time, unless a tourist ignorant of the light’s uselessness actually presses the button to cross the busy street.

“I often see drivers who just drive their cars right through the red light and ignore pedestrian crossings completely,” Sontaya said. “Such behavior may cause an accident. I would like to urge all drivers to be patient and stop and wait a short while when the light turns red for people. Otherwise they may have to waste much more time at the police station if they run over a pedestrian.”

Sontaya added he though the lights were such a waste of taxpayer money.

Launched Nov. 1, 2010, the crossing lights were billed as a way to improve safety for tourists and bring order to Pattaya’s crazy streets. Almost immediately, however, the signals - some separated by as few as 50 meters - were ridiculed and all but ignored by drivers who simply blew through red lights.

The city tried to salvage the program by posting banners, sending informational sound trucks into the streets and having police monitor selected crossings. Traffic police said the educational efforts partially worked, but the gains could not offset the traffic congestion they created.

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