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My life & study at Waseda University, Sustainable Urban Planning and Urban Transportation Development

My Research Activities at Waseda University


Name: Mr. Sukapat Tiempathom
Country: Thailand
Belonging: Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning
Unversity: Waseda University, Graduate School of Creative Science and Engineering, Master's Program
JICA course: Sustainable Urban Planning and Urban Transportation Development

In Thailand, traffic congestion and air pollution caused by the concentration of people in the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok, have become problems. While Japan is one of the successful countries in the field of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). I would like to study urban transportation planning, especially TOD in Japan, and apply this knowledge to my country, so I applied the “Sustainable Urban Planning and Urban Transportation Development” course, JICA Development Studies Program. Though this course, I enrolled in the Master's program at the Graduate School of Creative Science and Engineering, Waseda University in September 2020. When I joined the laboratory, the first thing that surprised me was the generous study follow-up by the professors. They encourage students to participate in academic conferences and hold weekly meetings regarding student’s research. In Thailand, the guidance for students is not provided actively as much, so I really appreciate it. Thanks to the guidance of the professors, my research is making good progress, and I was able to receive the Best Paper Presentation Award at the international conference held in August 2021.

Presentation at the International Conference of the Asia-Pacific Planning Society 2021 (ICAPPS 2021) and Receiving Best Paper Presentation Award

The International Conference of Asia-Pacific Planning Societies 2021 (2021 ICAPPS) was held on August 21 and 22, 2021 at Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, Taiwan, and I got the opportunity to present my research at this conference by online. The main themes of the conference were "Technology," "Urbanity," and "Smart Living”. In 2021 ICAPPS, we plan to review and rethink smart city as new policy mobility or transfer, its diverse applications and practices of planning or governing this “smart urbanism”, the influences and impacts (or side-effects) of our urban life and urbanity. It aims to promote communication on this topic among researchers from various universities and professional organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. It was my first experience to present my research at an international conference, but it was a great learning opportunity for me to meet experts and researchers in the same field from all over the world, as well as to share my awareness of issues with people tackling on similar themes in different countries.

My research life at the university

My laboratory conducts research on two fields, the urban field and the transportation field. In the urban field, we focus on themes such as smart cities, environmentally friendly cities, compact cities, and TOD, while in the transportation field, we focus on automated driving, LRT (Light Rail Transit, a new type of tram transportation that is comfortable and energy-efficient), and source demand (a type of transportation demand. It is a demand of transportation for its own sake, such as walking, boat cruises, rickshaw rides at tourist spots, etc.) and road safety. There are nearly 20 students in the lab, and 8 international students including me. We have regular meetings every Tuesday to report on the progress of our research. In addition, I try to actively participate in seminars about research methods on an irregular basis. Furthermore, I visit the redevelopment area like Shibuya station as a field trip. When I study, I usually bring my computer to the laboratory and interact with other students.
My research topic is "Transit Oriented Development and Accessibility of transit station in Bangkok Metropolitan Area". In Thailand, the public transportation usage rate is less than 30%, and more than 60% use private cars or motorcycles. The purpose of my research is to clarify the current situation of TOD in Thailand, to analyze the factors that hinder TOD and the challenges it faces, and to make policy recommendations based on successful examples of TOD in Japan and other countries.

My extracurricular activities


My hobby is mountain climbing, and I climbed many mountains while I was in Thailand. The first mountain I climbed in Japan was Mt. Takao, and the next challenge was the highest mountain in Japan, Mt. Fuji. It was one of the great memory in Japan to reach the summit and enjoy the panoramic view from the top of the mountain. In addition to mountain climbing, I also like to visit Japanese sightseeing spots and enjoy the four seasons, such as enjoying the autumn leaves.
There is also interaction among the laboratory members, such as playing baseball together and participating in a welcome party. I feel sorry that I couldn’t have face-to-face exchanges with other universities and external organizations due to COVID-19 pandemic, but I tried to participate in online exchanges with other JICA students of the "Sustainable Urban Planning and Urban Transportation Development" course, and discuss with Japanese experts who participate in the capacity-building training program "Urban and Community Development" course. Finally, as the Japanese food, I love ramen, especially spicy one, and I visit the many ramen restaurants around Waseda University to enjoy the taste of Japan.

My ambition after graduation

I feel that the transportation system in Japan, such as sidewalks and railroads, is excellent. In Thailand, sidewalks are maintained as well, but they are narrow and sometimes motorcycles run on the sidewalks. After I graduate from this master's program in September 2022 and return to my country, I would like to make full use of what I have learned in Japan and make efforts to introduce the TOD system in my country.

* This article is based on an interview with Sukapat Tiempathom in English at Waseda University on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.