(1999-2009)BTS skytrain and Bangkok City Fabric: Easing the Traffic Problem? the Mass Transit System & Gridlock in Bangkok

”I think that there is no point to shouting or pushing on your horn because even if you do, you are still sitting in traffic” – Adhiti Pinyowattayakorn, who works in a jewelry shop (Mydans, 1999)

Bangkok is definitely famous for the heavy traffic at city center. Since the opening of the first mass transit railway running in the mid-air of heart of Bangkok, the BTS skytrain gave a glimpse of hope to the citizens in Bangkok who have been “locked” in traffic for many years. 4 years after the commencement of the BTS Skytrain, the MRT Subways as part of the mass transit system plan of Bangkok begins its operation serving a new line of 20 km between Hua Lamphong and Bang Sue providing an alternative for Bangkok people to navigate in the city center without suffering from the traffic (Mahitthirook,2004).

However, did they actually proven to have an effect on relieving the traffic? When the new Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin began his terms of office in September 2004 and attended a radio show, traffic problem remained a hot item in the listeners’ list of concerns (Wancharoen, 2004). The people are still complaining about the traffic yet the BTS Skytrain has served for 4 years while kept on reaching new peaks of passengers and the new subway line just opened. What was missing from the BTS Skytrain as the first step for Bangkok to tackle its gridlocks by introducing a mass transit system?

”So what should I do? I’ll have to take a taxi to the Sathorn station, then ride to Asoke station, then take another taxi to my office. That’s the problem for a lot of people.” – Apichart Pholomai, a secretary who says she will continue to drive to work. (Mydans, 1999)

Factors such as the limited area that the skytrain could serve without an extension until 10 years after it started service as it remains the 24 stations stretching along the tourist and business districts that it did not access the bigger settlements and communities where people are actually living (Bengtsson, 2006) as further discussed in another post. In the early stages there were no connections to other transport and without its parking lots.

“Incentives are needed to lure people from private cars. Unless supplementary measures are introduced to encourage motorists to use public transport, traffic jams are here to stay”, said by Chumnong Sorapipatana, chairman of the Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment (JGSEE) at King Mongkut’s University of Technology (Bangkok Post ,2004).

What has to done is to have a comprehensive plan to create an integrated comprehensive mass transit system that links the two current major system running above and underneath the congested roads. Also the system should be extended to further outlying region where major people were living who drove to the city center to work. In order to achieve an integrated mass transit system, having an integrated common ticketing system could be a direct yet vital facilitator.

Successful cases of an integrated ticketing system could be found in Tokyo where commuters could use their PASMO smart cards to access the complex railway system operated by various companies, the bus system as well as in shops and even vending machines (PASMO Company, 2016). A multi-mode ticket system as part of the government plan to integrate the skytrain and the subway was first tested in 2007 (Mahitthirook, 2007). Since the mass transit system in Bangkok, namely the BTS Skytrain, the MRT Subway metro and the bus services operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority are owned and operated by different stakeholders, as simple as the having a common ticketing system enabling people to access all forms of mass transit including trains, buses and boats, would facilitate and encourage people to use commute on the public transports.




Amornrat Mahitthirook “TRANSPORT; Subway not instant cure for city’s traffic gridlock”, the Bangkok Post, April 14, 2004. Accessed 08, December, 2016

Amornrat Mahitthirook “RAIL TRAVEL; Integrated ticketing plan for Bangkok”, the Bangkok Post, September 24, 2007. Accessed December 08, 2016,

Magnus Bengtsson. “The Bangkok Skytrain – The transportation solution for Bangkok people?” (UMEÅ UNIVERSITY, 2006)

Post Reporters, “TRANSPORTATION / MASS TRANSIT SYSTEM – Little impact on traffic congestion, says study”, the Bangkok Post, July 4, 2004. Accessed December 08, 2016

Seth Mydans, “Bangkok Opens Skytrain, but Will It Ease Car Traffic?”, The New York Times, December 06, 1999. Accessed December 08, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/12/06/world/bangkok-opens-skytrain-but-will-it-ease-car-traffic.html

Supoj Wancharoen, “CITY / GOVERNOR TALKS TO PEOPLE – Traffic problems hot item on radio show”. The Bangkok Post, September 16, 2004, Accessed December 08, 2016.

“How to Use PASMO”,  PASMO Company, accessed December 08, 2016, http://www.pasmo.co.jp/en/use/

1 Comment on “(1999-2009)BTS skytrain and Bangkok City Fabric: Easing the Traffic Problem? the Mass Transit System & Gridlock in Bangkok

  1. I agree that the failure of skytrain is the disconnection to the residential district which is located out of the city center. The unsolved traffic issue in Bangkok reminds me the MTR services we have in Hong Kong. The first MTR line is connecting the first new town – Tsuen Wan and the Commercial Center – Central, which provides people a great incentive to move away from city center and populate the new town. Since then, new town development can hardly separate with the MTR station. As we learn from the failure in Bangkok and success in Hong Kong, it is essential to connect residential district and commercial district, the suburban and the city center, so as to develop a well-networked railway system and new residential town.

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