(1999-2009) BTS Skytrain and Bangkok City Fabric: Built on the City Axis
The BTS Skytrain started operating since 1999 with two lines of a total of 23 stations has carried thousands of citizens daily thought out the city. The Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line are the initial two lines established in the BTS Skytrain. The Sukhumvit Line with 17 stations running from the Mo Chit Station in the North to the On Nut Station in the east while the Silom Line with 6 Stations form the National Stadium Station to the Bang Wa Station in the south across the Chao Phraya River. The two lines interchange at the Siam BTS Station as the largest and busiest station.
There are four primary routes as National Highways of Thailand that connect Bangkok to outlying regions (Department of Highways, 2016) namely the Phahonyothin Road [Route 1] to northern Thailand, Mittraphap Road [Route 2] to north-eastern Thailand, Sukhumvit Road [Route 3] to eastern Thailand and Phet Kasem Road [Route 4] to southern Thailand.
The Skytrain routes were juxtaposed on two of the major roads of Bangkok, the Phahonyothin Road and the Sukhumvit Road. There are several factors contributing to the geography of the two lines. In a previous post explaining the selection of the elevated system rather than the underground option, the elevated system was chosen due to its minimal influence to the already highly congested roads in Bangkok. One of the original aim of the Skytrain that is to alleviate the traffic congestion in the center of Bangkok. The Phahonyothin Road and the Sukhumvit Road being major passages within Bangkok city center as well as linkage to the outer skirt of Bangkok, pressure on the road traffic has been high (Linda M. Pfotenhauer, 1994).
Another factor contributing to the current location of the two lines are related to the activities. The BTS Skytrain as the very first mass transit system, it is essential to connect the already developed regions. Without a comprehensive land use development plan that an actual zoning regulation was not implemented fully until 1992, Bangkok has been under a form of ribbon development (Askew, 2002) with development along the corridor of roads which was also the historical development mode of Bangkok in the canel oriented period. The Skytrain pass through several commercial and business districts which was developed also developed along the major roads (Bengtsson, 2006)
Regard the relationship between the BTS Skytrain and the Bangkok city fabric, an interesting condition can be found at the Victory Monument. The Skytrain breaks its linear form and turns round the monument (figure 2). This is can be viewed as an example of the conflict of an imposed mass transit system on to an existing urban fabric. Unlike the underground option, the elevated railway has to negotiate with what is present in the city.
The skytrain undoubtedly was planned at the period of time as an immediate measure of a Mass Transit System to the traffic problem as well as linking the points in Bangkok with major needs. It was built on the city axis but at the same time, it helps to further strengthen the Phahonyothin Road and the Sukhumvit Road as the major pathway of Bangkok.
Marc Askew, Bangkok: Place, Practice and Representation (New York: Routledge, 2002), 54
Magnus Bengtsson. “The Bangkok Skytrain – The transportation solution for Bangkok people?” (UMEÅ UNIVERSITY, 2006)
“Highway system,” Department of Highways , accessed December 8, 2016, http://www.doh.go.th/content.aspx?c_id=3&sc_id=11
Linda M. Pfotenhauer, “Bangkok Traffic Congestion: Is There a Solution?” TDRI Quarterly Review 9, no. 2 (June 1994): 20–23. Print.