BANGKOK (1999-2009)/BANGKOK AND BTS SKYTRAIN: Problem Solved?
As previous posts said, one of main reasons to build skytrain is to solve the traffic congestion. But has the Skytrain system totally solved the problem? From some newspaper research or tourists website, such as tripadvisor, you could find many positive reviews on Skytrain system.
“Many times in a couple of travel have visited in Bangkok. Although congestion of Bangkok is the took a tough time to move from the previously not always of, became a great help to the travelers was the emergence of the Skytrain BTS. Breeze in congestion knowing! Very very convenient and comfortable! …… We recommend that you.” (Tripadvisor, 2008)
This is one of Japanese tourist reviews about the skytrain from tripadvisor in 2008. It shows that the Skytrain System could help save time for tourist to hotels or tourist points at the centre of Bangkok. Other benefits of building skytrain instead of MRT is maximizing the efficiency of circulation between station and neighboring buildings, such as shopping centers, hotels, commercial buildings. So it is easy to guide people, who never been to Bangkok, by using signs and skybridge. (Jeremy Berke, 2016)
However, the lecturer from Faculty of architecture on Assumption University, Mr Vasin Thammanuban had not the beliefs that the Skytrain was built to reach out to the majority of the people of Bangkok. He would rather say that the purpose of the Skytrain System is to serve for the inner city commercial districts as well for the business districts. He also thought that the Skytrain has only two routes, the Sukhumvit route and the Silom route, the two routes could not serve many residential areas.(Magnus Bengtsson. 2006) The only route according to him that serves a residential area is the Sukhumvit line, but half of that route is high-income area. But most of high-income class would prefer to buy own car rather than taking public transportation. According to Mr Vasin, the two routes were built to facilitate for the middle to high-income people to wander around the Central Business District to enhance the opportunities in the commerce in the Central Business District. So it is mainly to benefit to business workers to save traffic time in commercial areas but not for residents.
On the other hand, the ticket price compared with the poor people’s income is also too expensive so they cannot take the Skytrain frequently. Most of the land along the two routes belongs to the Government, Commercial or universities. In the beginning of Skytrain operated, the tickets price was high due to lack of patronage. So less people prefered to take skytrain comparing to bus. The bus ticket starts at 5 baht and stretches to 10 baht for a single journey. The Skytrain ticket starts from 10 baht up to 45 baht for a single journey. If you take the train every day for around 80 baht the total monthly cost would be around 2480 baht, whilst your income as a low-income worker is only around 6000 baht that is about 1/3 of your total income. Compared with the monthly cost to take the bus, which is about 600 baht.(Magnus Bengtsson. 2006)
The data reveals that the demand of taking bus not fully transferred to Skytrain and the project of Skytrain is only concerned for commercial hubs and tourist points to enhanced economic growth, but not really to solve the social problems, such as the living conditions/transportation habits for low-income people.
Tripadvisor. “”The convenient of BTS in congestion Bangkok”. last modified 2008. accessed December 17,2016. https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g293916-d450970-r38145062-BTS_Skytrain-Bangkok.html#REVIEWS
Jeremy Berke. “I visited Bangkok and was shocked how clean and orderly the city’s elevated Skytrain is” Business Insider. Janaury,2016.
Magnus Bengtsson. “The Bangkok Skytrain” (Thesis Writing. UMEÅ University. Spring,2006)