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.