Being a transit/infrastructure/civil engineering buff as well as a long suffering resident of this traffic clogged metropolis, I’m always curious as to the status of different mass transit projects. One of the two that I’m eagerly anticipating is the extension of the Sukhumvit Line of the BTS Skytrain.
Sukhumvit is the main east-west running road in Krungthep. It changes names along the way, but it pretty much runs from the heart of the old city, through the Siam Square area, past the Asoke, Thong Lor and Ekkamai neighborhoods, before turning to the southeast and eventually – a few hours later – ending up in Pattaya.
Even with the existing Skytrain line running to On Nut, traffic on Sukhumvit remains very heavy. Currently, an extension is underway that will take the line all the way to Bang Na on the border of Bangkok and Samut Prakhan provinces. There is an additional extension planned that will take the line well into Samut Prakhan and would help many commuters to reach the city.
Earlier this week I was dropping our car off at the Nissan dealership at Sukhumvit 101 and I decided to snap some pictures of the current progress. It took me a while to find the previous pictures I had posted from the same spot.
Before and After – Taken from a pedestrian bridge just south of the future Punnawithi Station (at approximately Sukhumvit Soi 101), I was able to look north (back towards On Nut, Thong Lo, Asoke, and Siam) along Sukhumvit Road. The top picture was taken in December 2007. The bottom picture (taken just about 30 feet to the left of where I was standing for the top picture) was taken this week:
Of course the big question is, when is it going to open? It seems that the infrastructure is largely complete. According to reports, the delay in opening was caused by someone at city hall who didn’t process the paperwork to order track switching equipment. Pardon me while I roll my eyes.
Meanwhile, after dropping my car off at the dealer, I decided to catch one of the dozens of bus lines running along Sukhumvit to connect back to the On Nut Skytrain station, which is the current end of the line. These busses do not have air conditioning, have wooden floorboards, and don’t quite come to a stop when picking up or dropping off passengers. At 7 baht (about US$0.21) they are a bargain, though. Thankfully, it was mid-day and there were few passengers. I was able to snag a seat beneath one of the oscillating fans.
Chris, you are quite brave to catch that bus, as those bus drivers drive even crazier than the taxi guys! You must either be very short of baht on that particular day perhaps? Anyway, the fare used to be 5baht (a few years back), I guess inflation was the culprit!
My computer was being annoying and kept loading only half of your bus pic no matter how many times i tried refreshing. argh.. but from the description it sounds like the PMT and Asiad buses in India. The bus driving skills are the types you would see like in an action thriller movie (Think “Speed” okay?) and they have ended up hurting a lot of other people on the road not to mention I’ve had some close calls with buses on my scooter. The worst habit I find annoying is if I’m in the left lane… PMT bus is in the right lane, they want to be in the left lane suddenly to pick up and drop off people at the bus stop coming up ahead. They will literally make a straight diagonal path right in front of you without any warning any indicator and you better hope you’re going at 40 kph or less otherwise you’re screwed trying to screech to a stop so you don’t hit the bus that magically decides to appear in front of you. My mom visited in Jan and I took her on my scooter to do some errands we had to run nearby my apt. I’m honestly not comfortable with balancing a scooter with someone sitting behind so I only ventured around my neighborhood… My mom was shocked at how dangerous it was and couldn’t imagine how I’d been doing this for so long. She’s like every ride of yours on that scooter is like a close call for death. People ride/drive without paying heed to people around them. The traffic is such trash in India. But its getting better over time. For one thing we finally have fly overs. (I wish we could fast forward to the part where my city decides they need sky trains too!!) But then its all a part of the culture experience. lol.. cant do much but smile grumble and complain and hope u survive another day =P
Do you remember when we were kids, the bus only cost 25 cents? I was shocked to see how much bus fare costs now.
As a huge proponent of public transit, I’m always intrigued by MRT systems in other cities!! Our skytrain system in Vancouver is quite limited, too, but sadly our population doesn’t support something more extensive. I’m travelling to Hong Kong and Singapore in May so I can’t wait to see how their systems are!!
@CurryPuffy – Well, it is the end of the month. Have to pinch those satang to make them last.@gweirdo – Our bus drivers must train at the same place as your bus drivers! They will regularly take up all three lanes when pulling over to pick up or drop off passengers.@arenadi – Yes, I do. In fact, during junior high school summers my friend Scott and I would spend the day riding around on the Santa Clara County Transit busses, exploring the whole valley. I think a day pass for youth was $1.25 or something like that.@lil_squirrel4ever – Vancouver has slowly opened up lines, though, and the new one to the airport seems quite handy. I remember when there was no rail there at all. You’ll love Hong Kong and Singapore’s transit systems – very convenient. Especially Hong Kong with the Octopus card!
Buses don’t come to a stop when picking up or dropping off passengers? Do people just walk / run beside it? How do the elderly cope?
@ElusiveWords – They do what I know as a “California Stop” in which the vehicle may slow down a lot and there may even be the most momentary sensation of no longer moving forward but just as soon as you recognize that sensation, it is already past. As for the elderly? Ha! They aren’t taking the busses here. For one thing, they would have to step off a high curb from an uneven sidewalk, into the street, up another high step to get into the bus doorway and then up two more steep steps until they were fully inside the bus.
@christao408 – My cousin saw a bus cause a young girl to get into an accident for the same issue… crossing over to the left lane without indicating.. the bus didn’t even see the girl either that or he didnt bother stopping. so my cousin drove after the bus and after he saw him slowing down at the next bus stop she parked her car perpendicular to the bus so it couldn’t pass. she told him what he did and she wanted to take him to the police station for the way he was driving. he wasnt ready to come so he just waited there hoping she would leave. she sat in her car till eventually all of the passengers of the bus got off and took another bus. the amazing thing is none of the passengers were disgruntled because of it, its like they wanted to see justice being served. eventually he finally agreed and had no choice but to go with her to the police station and after which he was suspended. If more people take action hopefully this unruly driving can be curbed!! It’s a large feat but worth a shot =D
I can’t wait to see how the train station is going to look when it’s completed. I love public transportation.
Wow. But I thought from an entry awhile back that you have choices of buses right? Some are nicer than others or are all on this particular line like that?
You know, I do the same too! I look at the various Delhi Metro construction sites and keep wondering when it is going to be finished!!!
@arenadi – When did bus ever cost $.25?When I started taking it the price was already $1
The cash fare here is now $3.
@Wangium – The 70s… is this a decade you were part of? =D
@yang1815 – There are different buses, yes, but along this point on Sukhumvit the options are mostly unairconditioned. Even the air conditioned ones are pretty old.@Dezinerdreams – It is these things that teach us infinite patience!@TheCheshireGrins – The new stations appear similar to the current ones but the roof actually arches over the entire track. Currently, the roof stops about halfway over the train cars, causing some splash-back when the rain is heavy.
I guess not… arendi is that old?!
@Wangium – He’s not old. He’s just very experienced!
That is very interesting. I also love public transport but the city I live in does not have any. In South Africa there are informal taxis run privately. They are bad drivers and quite often are at war with each other. When I am in Cape Town I love using the trains. I love people watching and that is done best from public transport
@Wangium – He’s older than you and younger than me.@yang1815 – He’s that, too.@Umnenga – I was just hearing a news story about new bus lines being started in Johannesburg, was it? Lots of controversy both about the black communities that will be connected to well-off white areas, as well as the existing informal transit.
How cool that you got to see this before and under construction! I love how man is changing our landscape. Well, of course I’m not so happy with how we are destroying things as well, but it’s exciting to see the change nevertheless. Especially if it’s public transportation or things that benefit the public sector! I should go out and find things like that in my neighborhood. You know what, I will…eventually. :o)
@kenpcho – In your neighborhood? What would that be – another mall or another flyover ramp on the I-5? Ha ha…