Bangkok public transport network: The good, the bad and the ugly

Bangkok has added two new Skytrain stations. For the first time in over 12 years, the Skytrain was successfully expanded on the Silom line, crossing finally the Chao Praya River to serve the Thonburi side through two new stops, Krung Thon Buri and Wongwian Yai.

Does it mean the start of a new era of fast-expanding public transport for the Thai capital? Thailand can so far be proud of detaining probably the world record for the longest planning in any public infrastructure. It took some 40 years to build a new airport for the capital and almost as much time for the Skytrain (BTS) and the Underground (MRT). Just to add trains on the Silom Line crossing the bridge over the Chao Praya River took almost seven years.

However, not all is gloom. A new Skytrain extension is making progress. By the end of next year, the Sukhumvit line will be prolonged by another 6 km, adding five new stations to Bang Na, on the way to Suvarnabhumi airport.

Hurray? Not completely. With the next projects, Bangkok is back to its old woes. Let’s look for example at the future Purple Line, planned since 2000. According to the latest information, there is little chance to see a train running along its tracks before 2013 at best – most probably not before 2015.

And let’s forget about the future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), almost completed over a year and a half ago and playing already “Sleeping Beauty.” Aimed to cut time to 15 minutes between Silom and Rama III Boulevard, the new line is blocked due to “irregularities” in the concession attributed by the City of Bangkok.

And what about the Airport Express Line? It was originally planned for 2007 offering a non-stop connection from Makassan station in the city center, as well as a commuter line. Earlier this year, the government then announced that the Airport Express would open in August.

Unfortunately, Serirat Prasutanond, president of the Airports Authority of Thailand, officially confirmed in exclusivity to eTurboNews that the link will not be available to the public before December of this year.

Well, let’s look at it in a typical Thai “Mai Pen Rai” way (meaning “never mind”). An additional four-month delay is still nothing compared to 40 years!