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  • UME UNIVERSITY Department of Social and Economic Geography Social and Economic Geography C Spring Semester 2006 Supervisor: Olof Stjernstrm

    The Bangkok Skytrain

    - The transportation solution for Bangkok people?

    Magnus Bengtsson

  • Table Of Contents

    Table Of Contents .......................................................................................................1 Abstract .......................................................................................................................1 Acknowledgment .........................................................................................................2 GLOSSERY OF TERMS AND ACRONYMS...........................................................3 1 INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................4 2 THE PROBLEM ......................................................................................................6

    2.1 Aims................................................................................................................6 2.2 Method ............................................................................................................7

    3 BACKGROUND.......................................................................................................9 3.1 Thailand ..........................................................................................................9 3.2 Bangkoks fast development .............................................................................9 3.3 Transportation facts in Bangkok ....................................................................10 3.4 The Skytrain ..................................................................................................11

    4 PREVIOUS STUDIES FRAMEWORK FOR MRT PROJECTS.....................13 4.1 Economy and Finance of a MRT project ........................................................14 4.2 The poor and travel disadvantaged people......................................................15 4.3 Metros and land use .......................................................................................20 4.4 Requirements for MRT Planning ...................................................................22 4.5 City Development Plan ..................................................................................23 4.6 MRT - Metros................................................................................................24 4.7 Route.............................................................................................................26 4.8 The Vertical Alignment decision....................................................................26

    5 RESULT .................................................................................................................28 5.1 Interview with Mr Vasin Thammanuban............................................................28 5.2 Results from Secondary Data.............................................................................37

    6 DISCUSSION .........................................................................................................41 7 SUMMARY ............................................................................................................44 8 REFERENCES.......................................................................................................47

    8.1 Books and Reports.........................................................................................47 8.2 Internet ..........................................................................................................49 8.3 Interviews......................................................................................................49

    Figure 1. The Bangkok Skytrain at Thong Lo Station. 5

    Figure 2. The Skytrain Legend in Bangkok. 5

    Figure 3. The parking space at Mo Chit Skytrain Station. 8

    Figure 4. Public transportation with a canal boat. 12

    Figure 5. The Skytrain route at Victory Monument. 31

    Figure 6. Public transportation with a bus. 33

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    This thesis discusses different factors about The Bangkok Skytrain and is

    investigating if the Skytrain was good planned in order to reach out to

    majority of people living in Bangkok.

    Bangkok is today one of the most congested cities with traffic deadlocks

    that could subsist for several hours. The Skytrain may be one part of the

    solution to get rid of these problems and make Bangkok less congested and

    with fewer traffic jams.

    The results show that there are several important key factors that influences

    people choice of using the Bangkok Skytrain as a public transportation

    method. The key factors include the people choice of owning their own car

    as a status symbol, as well as the availability to travel with it. The main

    difficulty with the Skytrain is that its routes do not cover the big

    settlements where people are actually living. Other factors that influences

    people choice about choosing the Skytrain instead of the buses is the high-

    ticket price and the bad supply of a good feeder service to and from the

    Skytrain stations.

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    I would like to express my appreciation to SIDA that made this trip

    possible. I would like to thank all the staff at Assumption University for the

    help and support during my field study in Bangkok. In Sweden I would like

    to thank the staff at The Kulturgeografiska Institution at Ume University

    for your help and support during the writing process. And to my beloved

    family for all the support in my life while writing this thesis.

  • 3


    BMA Bangkok Metropolitan Authority BOT Build Operate Transfer BTSC Bangkok Mass Transit System Company Limited CBD Central Business District GDP Gross Domestic Product LRT Light Rail Transit MRT Mass Rapid Transit NGO Non Governmental Organization OCMRT Office of the Commission for Management of Road Traffic SRT State Railway of Thailand UN United Nations

  • 4


    The country Thailand and especially its capital Bangkok have for the past

    twenty-five years experienced a fast growth in both the private and the

    community sectors of the economy. The rapid development of the economy

    in the past twenty-five years has led to a high-speed expansion of the city

    capital Bangkok. Today one can see that the city of Bangkok is making

    great efforts to get rid of the problems that the rapid development over the

    past twenty-five years of the city resulted in. There are many issues that the

    city of Bangkok must work with and solve to get a sustainable city for the

    future. Some of the problems the city faces that it must deal with for the

    consideration of the future, are about the water pollution, the garbage

    containment, the air pollution and the infamous traffic congestions in the


    The traffic congestion is an immense issue for the city and its people living

    in it. The notorious traffic in the streets of Bangkok, especially in the CBD

    (Central Business District) at peak times affects a majority of the people

    thats working in that area. The time aspect is essential to look at because

    one can spend hours in traffic jams on the roads and only gains a few

    kilometres from the point where you originally started. The other aspect

    that has a big effect to the city is the pollution of the air from all the

    vehicles that are stuck in the congestions around the city. The source from

    which these two aspects of problems initially come from is the lack of a

    decent infrastructure planning and the poor variety of public transports

    from the government to the public. The further development of a good and

    effective infrastructure planning with public mass transit modes in mind

    could be the key to solve the congestion issues for the future. Until a

    couple of years ago the only public transports were buses, which these

    themselves were stuck in congestions and polluted the air and did not solve

    any of the previous mentioned problems.

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    Today the public transports also consist of a six-year-old Skytrain and a

    two-year-old M.R.T. Chaloem Ratchamongkhon subway.1 These two mass

    transit modes are possibly a step in the right direction to solve the public

    transports issue that is affecting the whole city of Bangkok and its people

    living in it. With this study I will examine one of these mass transit modes

    in a deeper context, namely the Skytrain.

    Figure 1: The Bangkok Skytrain at Thong Lo Station. (Source: Personal)

    Figure 2: The Skytrain Legend in Bangkok. (Source: BTS Homepage)

    1 The Skytrain opened 5 December 1999 and the M.R.T Chaloem Ratchamongkhon opened 3 July 2004.

  • 6


    The Skytrain has operated since 1999 and have helped serve people with

    their demands on travel and the advantage as a mass transit mode compared

    with the buses, but are this mass transit planned to serve a majority of

    people in Bangkok?

    It is somehow difficult to give a direct answer to that question because

    there are many factors that matter. This thesis will try to give some aspects

    to the factors that are involved.

    2.1 Aims

    The aim of this study is to analyze what the underlying factors are why the

    Skytrain did not become as effective as planned to the public as a new mass

    transit mode in Bangkok.

    The questions at issue:

    Was the planning of the Skytrain optimal in Bangkok?

    Are there any underlying factors that influence the people not to use

    the Skytrain?

    What advantages and disadvantages have the other public

    transportation modes compared Skytrain in Bangkok?

    Do the Skytrain have a future as mass transit transport in Bangkok?

    Do the poor people benefit from the Skytrain development?

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    2.2 Method

    The study will primarily be based on a theoretical approach were previous

    studies on Mass Rapid Transits will lead to a conclusion based on mostly

    secondary sources and data that are relevant to the subject. The sources and

    data used for this study are foremost gathered from the Internet, from UN

    (United nations) branches, databases, different NGOs (Non Governmental

    Organisations) and from the Thai government. The data gathered contains

    published reports, newspaper articles and thesis. Because of the outline of a

    MFS (Minor Field Studies) scholarship thesis the proper work method must

    include a large theoretical study. A quantity of fieldwork studies will be

    included, for example an interview with a person that has the proper

    knowledge about the subject of study.

    The interview method is based on a qualitative approach where an

    informant interview was conducted. An informant interview is used to

    interview a person that has a lot of knowledge in the particular subject of

    study but does not take any part in it oneself.2 The material from the

    interview was used in the results section. The same day that the interview

    was completed, the interview was written down on the computer, so no

    important facts were forgotten. It is vital to write down the interview as

    soon as possible, otherwise facts can be biased or that one interprets the

    answers different. When the interview was written down on the computer it

    was sent back to the person and he modified the interview from

    misunderstood statements and approved it and sent it back to me.3

    For the source critics on this thesis I am aware of that part 4, previous

    studies Framework for MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) projects could be

    more extensive when it comes to additional sources. The sources I used for

    that chapter is enough I think, to give pre knowledge about MRT projects.

    When doing a thesis there are no regulations on how many sources one

    2 Holme, Solvang, 1997, Page. 104. 3 Holme, Solvang, 1997, Page. 140.

  • 8

    must use when writing a thesis. As well for the interview, it would have

    been interesting to have a few more additional opinions about the subject.

    For the interview, it was hard to find the right people to contact and the

    time restraint made it tough to do more interviews. Most of the sources are

    taken from the Internet, in the form of reports. The reports are trust

    worthier than raw information that one can find on a webpage as text.

    Some of the sources do have old statistics in the form of facts, but they

    should be somewhat accurate for today.

    Figure 3: The parking space at Mo Chit Skytrain Station. (Source: Personal)

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    3.1 Thailand

    Thailand is located in the centre of the South East Asian mainland. The

    country is adjacent to Burma in the west and Laos and Cambodia to the

    east. The peninsular in the south is bordered by Malaysia. Most of

    Thailands landmass lies north of the coastline of its capital Bangkok. The

    total area of the country is 513,115 sq km. The peninsula in the south

    stretches about 960 km to the Malaysian border. Facing the Gulf of

    Thailand and the Andaman Sea. 4

    The population in Thailand are widespread all over the country. There are

    about 65 million5 people living in the country and in the capital Bangkok

    its estimated that about 7 million6 people are registered in the city.

    Bangkok has a daytime population of about 10 million7 people.

    3.2 Bangkoks fast development

    Bangkok, also known as Krung Thep (City of angles) in Thai, became by

    the year 1782 the capital city of Siam (the old name for Thailand). The city

    has for many centuries been the major Southeast Asian urban centre in the


    The rapid growth in the economy began around 1985 and lasted to the early

    1990s. During this period the country was one of the fastest growing

    economies in the world. The annual GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

    throughout this period was an average of 9.2 %. From the year 1992 to the

    Asia crisis in 1997 the country experienced an annual average growth in

    4 Lynn, Daniel (2004), Page. 1094. 5 Bangkok Post Internet, (2005-11-02). 6 BMA Internet, (2005-11-02). 7 Ibid. (2005-11-02). 8 Dearborn, Fitzroy (1999), Page. 63.

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    GDP of 8.2%.9 During these periods Bangkok became stronger in its

    economy and hence attracted population from the countryside to move into

    Bangkok for work opportunities. The outcome of the vast growth of

    Bangkok resulted in the urge of a functional infrastructure that didnt exist

    at the time, and still today does not exist.10

    3.3 Transportation facts in Bangkok

    There are several ways of transportation possibilities in Bangkok. But there

    are mainly three transportation modes that are more common used by the

    Bangkok citizen than other transportation modes. These transportation

    modes include the car, the motorcycle and the public transportation


    The car and motorcycle ownership in Bangkok exceeds other Asian cities

    in the region. The total vehicle ownership in Bangkok is 296 vehicles per

    1000 persons. Cars represent 56 per cent of the total vehicle ownership in

    Bangkok, the rest by motorcycles. The European average regarding total

    vehicle ownership is 341 vehicles per 1000 persons. Although, the total

    vehicle ownership in Europe consists of 96 per cent cars compared to the

    56 per cent in Bangkok. Other Asian cities like Tokyo, Singapore and

    Hong Kong has a lower total vehicle ownership than Bangkok, 261 in

    Tokyo, 143 in Singapore and 47 in Hong Kong per 1000 persons. The

    average among the Asian cities11 is 167 vehicles per 1000 persons,

    compared to Bangkok the average constitutes almost only half the quantity

    of vehicles found in Bangkok.12

    9 Lynn, Daniel, (2004), Page. 1114. 10 Ibid. Page. 1114. 11 Asian Cities: Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, Jakarta, Surabaya, Kuala Lumpor and Tokyo. 12 Jeff Kenworthy, Internet, (2005-10-02).

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    There are about 600 new cars added daily in Bangkok and the length of

    road per 1000 person is only 0.6 metres. The average among Asian cities is

    0.7 metres. Amongst American cities the number is 6.6 metres per 1000


    At daily basis the private transportation with cars and motorcycles

    constitutes around 55 per cent, while the daily trips with public transports

    like buses only represented 33 per cent in the Asian cities. The annual

    travel by public transport in proportion with other Asian cities was only 33

    per cent. The Asian cities14 annual travel by public transport was 64 per


    3.4 The Skytrain

    The Skytrain was opened for public use the fifth of December 1999. The

    Skytrain is operated and maintained by the private corporation Bangkok

    Mass Transit System, BTSC. The company operates it by a BOT (Build

    Operate Transfer) agreement. The Skytrain consists of a 23 km elevated

    railway system that operates above the street system in Bangkok. It serves

    mostly around a route that consists of tourism attractions, shopping malls

    and important business centres. The Skytrain has today two lines that it

    operates daily, the Sukhumvit line and the Silom line.16

    There are today 23 stations along the two routes and two of the stations are

    interchange stations with the subway. The ticket price for a single journey

    varies from 10 to 40 baht17.18 Recent Skytrain passenger numbers shows

    that there are almost 400000 passengers travelling at daily basis with the

    Skytrain. Monday to Thursdays there are an average of 400000 passengers

    that use the Skytrain daily, on Fridays an average of 450000 passengers. At

    13 Jeff Kenworthy, Internet, (2005-10-02). 14 Asian Cities: Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. 15 Jeff Kenworthy, Internet, (2005-10-02). 16 BMTC, Internet, (2005-11-09). 17 1 Swedish krona is 5.118 Baht. (2005-11-09). 18 BMTC, Internet, (2005-11-09).

  • 12

    the weekends the passenger numbers declines, Saturdays there are an

    average of 300000 passengers and Sundays the average is 200000


    Figure 4: Public transportation with a canal boat. (Source: Personal)

    19 2Bangkok, Internet, (2005-11-09).

  • 13



    Mass rapid transit or the abbreviation MRT is a smaller part of the

    definition that we can call public transportation. Public transportation is

    defined as an organized transportation service that is available to the

    general public.20 The term MRT are often used in an urban context that

    includes several specifically transportation modes along either fixed track

    rail systems or segregated busways on the common road.21 The different

    modes of transportation that the MRT term includes are usually busways,

    LRT (Light Rail Transit), metros and suburban rail.22 The mass rapid

    transit service in especially developing cities considers the essential

    requirement that it can carry a huge numbers of passengers quickly from

    one destination to another.23

    There are many aspects to consider when a government or a private

    company should carry out a MRT project. This chapter will provide a

    theoretical framework that will describe the certain aspects that are

    important to take in view when carrying out an MRT Project. The

    theoretical aspects will constitute a base from what a conclusion about the

    Bangkok Skytrain are going to be done.

    20World Book, Inc (1999), Page. 392. 21 World Bank, Cities on the move, Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 109. 22 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. Abstract. 23 Ibid. Page. 2.

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    4.1 Economy and Finance of a MRT project

    The most common ways to finance a MRT project are either by a BOT

    project or by government funds. The BOT method in development

    countries today has become more frequent used than government funding,

    when carrying out a MRT project. BOT stands for Build Operate

    Transfer, it is often used when governments want to hand over a project to

    a private company, then the company builds and operate the project for a

    number of years, then it hand back the project to the government. The

    advantages of the BOT concession, with private funds are that it is thought

    as a way to get rid of the unfavourable fiscal burden. The fiscal burdens on

    new metros are often high unless the systems are very thoughtfully utilized

    and the fares are rather high.24 The other benefits to have a BOT

    concession instead of a government-funded project is that the demands that

    the government has on the project cannot be financed with the public

    funds. The result is that private funding is the only option left. Private

    funding is also sometimes considered as an easy option when choosing

    how to finance a MRT project. Improved efficiency is another benefit of

    BOT projects. The private sector is more liberated to use other private

    corporations to implement, manage and reveal risks of the projects than the

    government. There is also a belief that some of the risks concerning the

    projects are transferred to the private sector.25

    For an example, in Buenos Aires between 1993 - 1999, the metro and

    suburban rail systems increased with 75 percent of its previous length, and

    the number of trains on time by 20 percent, the patronage increased by 125

    percent even tough the fare rose by 30 percent over the period in real terms.

    At the end the subsidy fell from 1 $ to 0.10 $, a decrease by 90 percent.

    This was a result of private management. It had expanded the service

    supply and the cost recovery, and also eased the fiscal burden.26

    24 World Bank, Cities on the move Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 117. 25 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11), Page. 97. 26 World Bank, Cities on the move Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 118.

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    Significant advantages can be the result of private construction and

    management. The essential requirement to benefit from a BOT project is

    that the project is planned within a greater context, which is a carefully

    overall planned strategy. The propositions of such public policy objectives

    must be accepted by the public sector and be part of a well-constructed

    concession plan.27

    The report, Cities on the move clearly points out one important impact with

    a private financial built public transport infrastructure. The negative impact

    can arise when the system has a low ridership and must maximize its

    revenues (example given, raise the ticket prices), this results that the poor is

    excluded from the system and external benefits are lost. The report

    mentions the Bangkok Skytrain as an example where this has occurred.28

    4.2 The poor and travel disadvantaged people

    In development countries there are often an issue how to handle the

    question regarding poverty alleviation in terms of an affordable service that

    is critical for the poor versus a good quality service that would attract the

    car users and hence lower the congestion and air pollution. The problem is

    how to satisfy both parts when planning for a MRT service. The difficulty

    arises when only public finances should fund a MRT project. The public

    finances can probably not continue to have the subsidy because of the

    dilemma of a good quality service for car users and low tariffs for the poor,

    which are not good for the finances in a long term.29

    The most favourable transport for the poor is buses or busways. Especially

    for those that live outside the city This transit mode creates major

    convenience for them mainly if the buses are either open systems or

    trunk and feeder system. The poor people are frequently using this

    27 World Bank, Cities on the move Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 118. 28 Ibid. Page. 122. 29 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries, Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 8.

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    transit mode and this results in spending many hours in traffic congestions

    and in the street level environment that contains polluted air. The poor

    could improve their health if the buses were improved, on the other hand

    the possibilities of more expensive tariffs would become an issue.30

    Poor people are also included by the travel disadvantaged. This group of

    people have difficulties to transport themselves within the mass transit

    system, because of problems with the buses, sidewalks that is not adjusted

    and the lack of pedestrian phases at street signals. Although some of the

    travel disadvantaged such as the encumbered will still be able to use the

    mass transit services.31

    Metros are as a mass transit mode more complex to describe the effects

    upon poor people than the buses and busways. There are a number of

    advantages that the poor people will benefit from when this type of mass

    transit offers its service. By the trickle down effect metros may benefit the

    poor, as it reduces congestion, pollution and accidents. Upon construction

    the metros will offer plenty of jobs to the poor and when the metro service

    is open to the public the busways and buses may be more efficient since the

    buses are less overcrowded and the congestion on the roads are slightly


    The implementation of a metro is often difficult since poor people often

    will be relocated and have to leave their homes and jobs for the planned

    metro. Along the track, if the metro is elevated and around the stations and

    depot the land value often increases and the results are that poor people

    must move to new areas, since they cannot afford the new prices. It is also

    common that the metro is planned along a CBD corridor where poor people

    do not find the services they need, and hence they do not use it. The travel

    disadvantaged that are mobility impaired does find it difficult to use the

    30 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries, Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 9. 31 Ibid. Page. 9. 32 Ibid. Page. 9.

  • 17

    metro if lifts are not provided or the shortage of escalators at the stations.

    Other travel disadvantaged may have problems to afford the ticket.33

    To approach the poor in a region or a city and to acquire some kind of

    MRT policy there are generally 4 broad ways to identify the poor. To set

    the context of the poor to a MRT policy the liable institution can target

    individuals or groups, by a geographical measure and give reduced fares to

    public transport passengers as a group.34

    Targeting individuals is usually the most common way to identify the poor.

    The poor that are in urge support for help should receive it. This method is

    preferred for its efficiency reasons. The difficulty with this method is to

    identify the poor whom sometimes are not so easy to distinguish.35

    The targeting of identifiable groups in the community are vanishing, the

    cause is that the government have no budget to repay the private operators

    for their acceptance with the indulgences because of the subsidy. In many

    of the former Soviet Union countries the targeting of poor groups, usually

    elderly people, disabled and war veterans, are giving free or inexpensive

    travel throughout the city. This is a direct impact on the poor but there are

    also people that are not poor that benefits from the poverty alleviation.36

    In a geographical context the poor can be identified where they live. Often

    if they live in large communities that are concentrated, they are easy to

    identify and taking appropriate measures for. There are a few possibilities

    that can be undertaken to ease the burden of the poor. To improve the

    public transports, the government, when they identified the poor areas, can

    build roads that will help the poor groups in the area to have easier access

    to the public transport system.37 33 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 10. 34 Ibid. Page. 153. 35 Ibid. Page. 153. 36 Ibid. Page. 153. 37 Ibid. Page. 154.

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    In the poor areas that have public transports that have been granted by the

    liable institution the service can be improved by planning and preferences

    of precise service needs. Sometimes these enhancements require subsidies

    from both the government as well as the operator of the transport service.

    These subsidies are aimed to support the poor without an influence on the

    public budget. This is rather hard to accomplish if the governmental

    institutions are not effective and have a prerequisite for subsidies. The

    outcome of a service in a poor area is less certain if market forces instead

    of government institutions determine the transport services in that area. If

    the poor area is rather difficult to serve with public transports or the cost is

    high the poor will likely not benefit from a private public transport


    The poor can take advantage of much less effective form of geographical

    targeting, namely flat rates. The flat rates are a fare that have an equal cost

    and does not consider how far the person travels. This form of fare can

    support poor people that live far away from the city centre with reduced

    costs of transportation. In Brazil the flat rates benefits the poor people that

    lives out in favelas. The favelas is often placed at the edge of the city and

    the flat rates or almost flat rates helps these people to transport themselves

    for a low cost all over the city area. The negative aspect of flat rates for

    poor people is the persons that only travel short distances, for them the

    transportation cost is an issue.39

    38 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 154. 39 Ibid. Page. 154.

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    The geographical targeting of poor people can only be efficient if the large

    communities of the poor are identified. There must also be an executive

    branch that has capacity to obtain the necessary services within the poor

    area. Capable targeting of the poor will not work if these two premises are

    not met.40

    The last generally broad way of targeting the poor is by the subsidies to the

    public transports as a group. Low fare costs are to consider helping to profit

    the poor. Public transportations should not be funded by taxpayers money,

    for example metros, because the poor people will not have the budget to

    afford the use of a metro. The result of a subsidy what economic impact it

    have are based on the approach of the targeting mechanism and of the

    situation of the public finances. A set of economic reasons is the

    foundation for the subsidies and they reside on second best grounds where

    the marginal costs are below the car prices and cannot be increased. In

    fixed track systems, when rail costs are the slightest rate mode of


    The impact of the subsidy on the people that are not poor is small. With

    reduced fares from the subsidy the chances to attract the car users are low

    with a metro. In the case that metros become popular to use they will

    decongest the road system. This will result in lower fares for the poor, a

    smaller amount of overcrowding on the roads and improved service

    quality, even tough the poor isnt using the metro.42

    How to identify the poor needs detailed analysis and in each case requires a

    consideration how to make the best impact upon the poor with these

    previous mentioned options, and with the financial budget in mind.43

    40 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 154. 41 Ibid. Page. 154. 42 Ibid. Page. 155. 43 Ibid. Page. 155.

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    4.3 Metros and land use

    The effect of an outcome between metros and land usage is vague. Albeit,

    some studies have examined the effect on the land use when a metro is

    developed. The studies point that there are some impacts upon land use. A

    metro can contribute to help structuring the city. The city structure can help

    to attain the desired land use within the metro corridor and thereby create a

    profitable metro funding that is based on the relation between land use and

    metro traffic. The requirement of the situation above is a government with

    a good and developed ability to finance and afford a substantial network

    that are developed relative to the city size.44 According to Mackett et al, a

    public transportation system does not in general stimulate the development

    as much as expected from the start, according to them.45

    The metro will have a major effect on the structure around the CBD and

    allows the CBD to grow if the dynamic exists from the beginning,

    otherwise other choices of land use would be forced. It is a prerequisite that

    the metro extends all the way into the city and that it will be independent

    from the bus networks because of the bus capacity bottlenecks. The bus

    capacity bottleneck prevents the further growth of the CBD.

    The capacity problem might be solved if few lines are developed deeper

    into the city, this would lead to a considerable restructuring of the city

    around these lines and sectors of the city. A small metro network have

    probably very little impact on the development and structure if being built

    in a limited distance that does not extend very far in the city and along

    many corridors. Under other circumstances when the cities are small and

    the cost of a network is to big to afford the reason for a metro is very


    44 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 170. 45 Mackett et al, The Impact of Urban public Transport Systems: Will the Expectations be Met? Internet, (2006-05-16). Page. 243. 46 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 170.

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    To the sustainable agenda metros are described to be a central part, this is

    because of its essential role of a package that allows private cars to be

    restrained. The package is a tool to control traffic congestion and reduce

    pollution and other unfavourable effects. The city structure and the land use

    will benefit from the impacts that the package provides. This will lead to a

    balanced, environmentally sustainable strategy that ensures acceptable

    accessibility for everyone. In developing countries this ideal is not a

    realistic experience, tough it can be applied in some cities and countries but

    is very rare to be successful in developing countries. The causes of the

    failure in developing countries are that the population are very large and it

    increases very fast, creating a widespread geographical explosion that

    needs new land areas to populate. The income and affordability are also

    variables that matter in developing countries, when population increases it

    limits raises in income and affordability.47

    In developing countries the metro position are probable more limited but

    still very important in a strategic point of view. The metro role is to keep

    the city functioning when acute traffic congestions arise and make them

    less severe, offer alternative ways of transport. In larger cities the metro is

    also an aid to allow the CBD to continue to expand, making a structural

    centre that is robust, wherever that is the objective.

    A developed metro that only operates along some radial corridors in a city

    can over time effect the balance of development between city sectors with

    some substantial impacts that separates those who have a metro line or

    those who have not a metro line in their vicinity.48

    47 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 171. 48 Ibid. Page. 170.

  • 22

    4.4 Requirements for MRT Planning

    According to Halcrow there are no standard procedure to follow when you

    are planning for a MRT project. Although there has been much learned

    from earlier projects and they provide good information how to act in a

    developing context. To identify the right projects and secure government

    commitment there are two broad stages to fulfil and after that

    implementation and operations can follow. The first phase according to

    Halcrow is planning and economics, but these subjects must be handled

    with consideration to financing and implementability. The second phase

    should include Institutional planning, financing and measures to improve

    MRT impacts. Throughout the whole process there ought to be a Risk

    analysis that are monitoring the project.49

    Halcrow suggests that in the planning process all the important factors

    should be recognized, so the government easily can support it and

    understand the consequences of the project. The factors are defined as

    physical, operational requirements, tariffs and integration requirements

    with the existing public transport system, institutional and legal

    arrangements, funding and the procurement strategy.50

    A holistic planning process is a necessity according to Halcrow. A MRT

    system in a city can be a big catalyst that generates a broad range of

    benefits to the region. A region requires a broad standpoint to identify the

    appropriate role for the MRT therefore it is necessary to have a city

    development or structure plan from the beginning. In order to have and

    work from such a plan it is good to have a multi-disciplinary, open minded

    and reasonable approach from the start.51

    49 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 177. 50 Ibid. Page. 177. 51 Ibid. Page. 177.

  • 23

    Public transport integration does not happen in some cases between the

    different public transports and according to Halcrow that is because there

    can be jealousy between institutions or different agencies, sometimes even

    government tiers are divided into separate decisions and thus makes it hard

    to get an agreement.52

    4.5 City Development Plan

    Halcrow points out that there are real important for a government to have a

    city development plan. With this plan the objectives should be clearly

    defined, how the core funding and other restrictions are described. In the

    City development plan there should also be stated how the priorities for the

    various sectors of the city are going to be processed in the future,

    considering how the existing conditions and problems are defined in the

    city today. Halcrow would also like to see an idealistic perspective that

    every city has a meaningful Plan, a plan that includes a future physical

    strategy and also take in perspective the economic and social strategies for

    the city.53

    In developing cities it is common that a city development plan does not

    exist. A plan may exist but the government does not acknowledge it. To

    plan and build a public transport with no City development plan is

    problematic because the transport has a huge impact on the city structure

    for the future land use according to Halcrow. This is especially important

    to reassess when building a MRT project, for example a metro, because of

    their massive influence on the city structure.54

    52 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 179. 53 Ibid. Page. 180. 54 Ibid. Page. 180.

  • 24

    4.6 MRT - Metros

    The following section contains some important attributes to have in mind

    when planning for a metro. The facts and contents are collected from the

    Halcrow section about metro planning. Halcrow did a research in the 1990s

    about what conditions were necessary to fulfil so a metro could be

    economically justified. The conditions that were drawn from the research

    provide a good framework for the planning of a metro.55 The following

    conditions are important to reconsider and have in some sort of context

    when planning a metro:

    Corridor Size According to Halcrow there must be a high flow of

    passengers per hour down the main corridor. He mentions that about

    10-15000 passengers per hour are required in each direction.

    There is suggested that the city income is not to low, at least 1800

    USD per person according to Halcrow.

    There should be economic prospects for sustained growth in the


    The City Centre ought to have expanding possibilities. If possible the

    MRT should be located in a provincial or capital city.

    The alignment of the metro should be as cheap as possible.

    Fares Policy Halcrow recommend that there should exist some

    kind of fares policy that persuades ridership on metro and bus

    systems. A Fare policy that dont need a huge amount of finical


    The City management ought to be stable in its government

    institutions and have confirmed competence.

    The Metro Management should have the same attributes as the City

    management, well built, for the most part an autonomous

    management with clear objectives.

    55 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 183.

  • 25

    To get a deeper understanding of the conditions earlier mentioned in the

    text, Halcrow explains more precisely about the various fundaments for

    planning a metro.56

    The city size isnt all that matters if you want a Metro that is viable in a

    long term, there is important that the features of the corridor is right. For

    example Halcrow mentions the cities of Pusan and Caracas that has the

    attributes of a linear city, a metro can be viable even tough as he says, the

    cities are not large. Singapore is also an example for a city that has very

    few corridors, but the metro plays an important role for the city. It is not

    only economically viable but also essential as a part of the structure of the

    city. The metro viability is linked to the form of the city structure.57

    A viable metro project needs to keep the costs at a minimum and still have

    a lot of passengers to keep the revenues high. To help relieve the economic

    situation it will be cheaper to build an alignment that is rather elevated than

    underground, and rather at-grade than elevated. To keep high ridership

    numbers in a long-term perspective obliges to set station locations in the

    right place, for example penetrating the heart of the city centre, and or also

    major residential areas. The integration between buses and metro are also

    important features to keep high ridership according to Halcrow.

    There are also important to keep large existing bus flows in the near

    vicinity of the viable metro because a great majority of the metro

    passengers are required to switch from buses. 58

    The majority of the benefits of a metro depend upon future circumstances.

    There are thus important to have reconsidered a future situation of how the

    city growth is going develop.59

    56 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 183. 57 Ibid. Page. 184. 58 Ibid. Page. 184. 59 Ibid. Page. 184.

  • 26

    4.7 Route

    The route decision for which the metro are being planned ought to run

    trough the city centre, any other proposal according to Halcrow must be

    considered suspect. The greatest passenger flows with the biggest amount

    of congestion and the smallest need for modal interchange is to find at the

    main radial roads to the city centre. Halcrows 1990 study did not find

    anywhere in the world were non-radial roads was well patronised, except

    for distributor lines inside the city itself. The route and locations of stations

    is critical to the patronage levels, locations of stations that is only 600

    800 metres from the wanted destination reduce patronage significantly.60

    4.8 The Vertical Alignment decision

    The vertical alignment is the third most important decision after the

    planning of the route and the location of the stations. This decision has

    according to Halcrow a big impact on the initial cost and on the physical

    environment, some impact of the technology choice and persistent costs,

    despite the fact that the influence of patronage and revenues depends upon


    Usually the interchange between elevated and underground systems is

    difficult to manage, therefore this decision drastically affects the choice of

    alignment in all contexts of rail systems, and interchange within the same

    system may be effective according to Halcrow.62 On locations were

    underground and elevated alignments are placed at the same location the

    interchange is according to Halcrow, very difficult. Halcrow mentions the

    Bangkok system as an example and to see how the system can operate as

    an integrated network is very hard to imagine according to Halcrow.63

    60 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 185. 61 Ibid. Page. 186. 62 Ibid. Page. 186. 63 Ibid. Page. 189.

  • 27

    It is common that mass transit systems usually follow the same corridors

    (example given, roads) that elevated systems would go along. Even when

    underground systems has the opportunity to freely choose its route this is

    rarely ever realised, apart from when a route crosses barriers such as rivers

    or hills.64

    The alignment decision might not only be a technical issue, thus the budget

    of a mass transit project is often constrained and an underground alignment

    has often a huge impact on the budget. Therefore the issue may be to build

    at-grade or elevated today, or wait for the proper money to afford an

    underground alignment. Because once a mass transit system is built, it will

    be there for all time. One decision is to develop an elevated system and live

    with the environmental consequences or wait with a construction until the

    underground alignment becomes affordable.65 Another aspect of the

    elevated alignment is the troublesome air pollution that develops beneath

    the elevated stations and creates a tunnel effect in the heavily trafficked

    corridors.66 From the research that Halcrow has undertaken, it shows that

    an elevated construction more than halves the initial costs, moreover it

    reduces the operating costs and makes the project more fundable.67

    In the end when planning for a mass transit system, the alignment decision

    is a very important part of the whole process. Halcrow describe this part as

    a component of central importance to the transport strategy.68

    64 Halcrow, Fox World Bank, World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review - Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries Internet, (2005-09-11). Page. 186. 65 Ibid. Page. 186. 66 Ibid. Page. 189. 67 Ibid. Page. 192. 68 Ibid. Page. 187.

  • 28

    5 RESULT

    5.1 Interview with Mr Vasin Thammanuban

    Mr Vasin Thammanuban is a lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture on

    Assumption University.

    Mr Vasin acknowledges that there were political issues between the

    government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority in the beginning of

    the Skytrain Project. The Skytrain Project belonged to the BMA (Bangkok

    Metropolitan Administration) and the sitting party at BMA were going to

    use the Skytrain Project to help them renew their mandate because it was

    election year. On the other hand, the government wanted to take control of

    the project but the sitting party at BMA was unwilling to release it to the

    government according to Mr Vasin.

    There were two major reasons that influenced the decision of building an

    elevated railway instead of an underground railway, Mr Vasin says in the

    interview. The first reason was that Bangkok had trouble with flooding

    when the project was on an up rise, and that led to a solution to build an

    elevated track system. The second reason was because of the budget, an

    elevated track system was a much cheaper alternative than an underground

    track system.

    Mr Vasin has 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 continues and says that the Skytrain has

    two routes, the Sukhumvit route and the Silom route. Mr Vasin does not

    think that the two routes serve many residential areas. The only route

    according to him that serves a residential area is the Sukhumvit line, but

    half of that route is high-income area. He also thinks that the ticket price

  • 29

    compared with the poor peoples income is too expensive so they cannot use

    the Skytrain frequent. Most of the land along the two routes belongs to the

    Government, Commercial or universities.

    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 (CBD) to enhance the opportunities in the commerce in the CBD


    Regarding the low patronage in the early days of operation of the Skytrain,

    Mr Vasin thinks that they have changed to the better. He says that the price

    was too expensive for the people when the Skytrain first was introduced

    but the people today have adjusted to the prices. So a lot of people are

    today trying to save time by using the Skytrain, especially the teenagers

    and the business people.

    Mr Vasin is not to sure about the income levels between different groups in

    the city of Bangkok, but he mentions what he thinks are the income levels

    for the low income, middle income and high income in Bangkok. The low-

    income people have a salary around 6000 baht per month, but there are

    many people that have an income lower than that figure. For the middle

    income people the salary per month are about 20000 50000 baht and for

    the high-income people the salary is from 50000 baht and up.

    The trickles down effects from the Skytrain to the low-income people are

    not that huge according to Mr Vasin. He does not believe that the poor

    people benefits in a greater scale from the Skytrain. He says that you can

    see some hawkers near some of the stations but they are not allowed to sell

    anything in the elevated stations. At the stations there are shops and

    commerce exists but Mr Vasin says that the rent for the space is too

    expansive for the poor to afford, he thinks that there are only retail shops or

    chain stores that can afford the space. The only place that Mr Vasin

  • 30

    believes that the poor benefits from the Skytrain is at the Mo Chit station,

    were the retail shops belongs to the poor people he says.

    The ticket for a journey with the Skytrain is very expansive compared to a

    bus ticket according to Mr Vasin. 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. He says that 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. To the middle-income people, Mr

    Vasin is not too sure about the fare price, if it is fair, as he, uses it only in

    the weekends and in the evenings, it depends. He thinks the people that are

    not low-income can afford the price when they use the Skytrain on the

    weekends or in the evenings. He mentions that people often compare the

    prices for the Skytrain with the taxi. He says that if you have 3-4 people

    that are going up to Mo Chit it will be a total cost around 100 baht for a

    taxi. With the Skytrain the total cost for 3-4 persons would be around 160

    baht. So they take taxi instead, but if you want to save half an hour or one

    hour you should go by Skytrain instead he says. He also mentions that the

    public affordability among middle and high-income classes are acceptable.

    The advantages of the Skytrain is that it saves time, the traffic jam in

    Bangkok is getting worse by the day according to Mr Vasin. By going by

    the Skytrain it will save you from 40 minutes to 1 hour in the mornings and

    the evenings. He thinks the saving time aspect is the biggest advantage by

    going by the Skytrain. Another advantage is that it reduces car traffic, on

    the weekends, he says, you can park near the stations and take the Skytrain

    to the department stores instead of your car. The disadvantages of the

    Skytrain are an urban issue because it causes a visual pollution, it is huge

    compared to the roads that are quite narrow. It also obstruct the view and

    the sunlight to the roads, and beneath the stations of the elevated Skytrain

    system there are a lot of fume that is gathered from the traffic below,

  • 31

    especially the buses according to Mr Vasin. In some areas, as the Victory

    Monument, Mr Vasin says that you can see the Skytrain go around the

    monument and that is not really a good view.

    The Skytrain compared with other traffic modes in Bangkok brings up

    some advantages. Mr Vasin says that the Skytrain is faster, air conditioned

    and not crowded compared to the buses. He continues and states that taking

    the bus in the morning and the evening is like hell, especially in the rainy

    days. In the rainy days you might stay on the road for about 2-3 hours, if

    you dont take a Air conditioned bus it is very hot, and the traffic jam is so

    bad, and the people must go up like 4-5 in the morning to take the bus to

    the office he says. In that aspect, the Skytrain is more convenient and

    faster, but he says, the price is so different compared with the bus.

    Figure 5: The Skytrain route at Victory Monument. (Source: Personal)

  • 32

    Mr Vasin thinks that the boat is better then the Taxis, he says that there is

    no fume or traffic jams on the canal. The people that use the boat are

    mostly low and middle-income people according to Mr Vasin. There are

    only 2-3 boat routes, the major route goes along the Chaopraya River. The

    other goes along the canals in Bangkok. The routes dont connect with each

    other. For a few years ago, there were plans to build a tram network along

    the canal, the government didnt have to reclaim the land or obstruct the

    traffic when building on the existing canal. But the plans were cancelled

    because, according to Mr Vasin, the land along the canal belongs to the

    low-income people, and they didnt want to move, so the system was


    The subway is a much better alternative than the Skytrain according to Mr

    Vasin. The subway does not cause visual pollution as the Skytrain does.

    Although, he says, the prices are quite the same as the Skytrain, but he

    thinks it is good for the city, but the construction is more expensive than

    the Skytrain.

    Mr Vasin thinks that after the extension from Saphan Thaksin to Thonburi

    is built there will not be any more extensions to the Skytrain Network. He

    says that is because he believes that the next investment will belong to the

    government. The existing two routes will continue to operate, according to


    The locations of the stations was probably not planned depending on where

    people live says Mr Vasin. He continues and says that if you look at the

    Sukhumvit route, most of the stations are located near department stores,

    main commercial areas or main junctions like Asoke intersection.

    According to Mr Vasin, the idea of the Skytrain is to serve the business and

    the commercial and not for transport people from their living area to the

    city. For example, he mentions the station at Siam that extends to the

    station at Victory monument. That area is a big commercial area for the

    teenagers, and along that area there are most commercial parts, maybe

  • 33

    some are living areas but not in a great extent he says. Today, most of the

    residential areas are a long way from the stations, like in On Nut and

    Phrakhanong, that why new developments are buying up land near the

    Skytrain stations to build Condomiums for the high-income people he says.

    It is difficult to point out the exact locations where the big settlements in

    Bangkok are located, the settlements are scattered around the city says Mr

    Vasin. For example, the area at Ramkhamheang University is a middle-

    income area but around that area there are low-income areas.

    Figure 6: Public transportation with a bus. (Source: Personal)

    The way people transport themselves around the city is different between

    different income groups says Mr Vasin. The low-income uses mostly bus,

    boat and heavy train, from rural Thailand to inner Bangkok. The middle-

    income possess their own car, and some uses bus, Skytrain and MRT says

    Mr Vasin. For the high-income people, Mr Vasin believes that they use

    their own driver for going around the city, traveling for them is not a

    problem, some also uses cab. The middle and high-income people have a

  • 34

    motto according to Mr Vasin when it comes to traffic jams, getting stuck in

    your own car is better than getting stuck in a bus. Therefore the middle and

    high-income people tries to have their own car.

    Mr Vasin thinks that the interchange system between the bus and the

    Skytrain and the MRT and the Skytrain works well. Today there are three

    interchange stations between the MRT and the Skytrain, the first is located

    at Silom, the second at Asoke and the third at Mo Chit. According to Mr

    Vasin it is easy to change between the Skytrain and the MRT, the only

    problem he mentions, is that the tickets are not compatible between the two

    mass transit systems. The connection between the heavy rail system and the

    Skytrain is not that good either says Mr Vasin. The only Skytrain station

    that enables you to switch to the heavy rail system is at Rattachawidi but

    you can only change during the peak times, in the morning and the evening

    says Mr Vasin.

    The way people travel from their settlements to the Skytrain stations

    depends upon how the stations are designed. Some of the stations offer

    parking lots so that you can park your car and take the Skytrain to the

    selected destination. Other Skytrain stations do not have parking lots so

    you must take a cab or park at a department store to take the Skytrain to

    your selected destination says Mr Vasin. The Skytrain Company itself is

    trying to provide feeder-service at 2-3 stations Mr Vasin says. Ekkamai and

    Thong Lo are two stations were this kind of service exists according to Mr

    Vasin, this is because these residential areas are were the high-income

    people lives and therefore they provide transport between the station to the

    residential area. In the beginning of the Skytrain, according to Mr Vasin,

    there were around 5-6 minibus feeder systems around various stations, but

    today he is not sure about how many systems that are left. Mr Vasin says

    that he heard about some kind of connection service between the Skytrain

    and the MBA bus system, if you save your ticket from the MBA bus

    system when you buy a Skytrain ticket you get a discount, but he is not

    sure if this kind of service is viable today or not.

  • 35

    The Skytrain has affected a lot how the middle and high-income people

    live and transport themselves today according to Mr Vasin, but he is not

    that sure that the Skytrain has affected the ways of how the poor people

    live and transport themselves, because they didnt benefit from the Skytrain

    according to him. He mentions that some of the high and middle-income

    people in the age from 30 35, today try to live in a Condo in the City of

    Bangkok near a Skytrain station. He continues and says that in the past

    Thai people loved to have a single house in the suburb area and drive from

    the house to the office, but today high and middle-income people try to

    acquire a condo near the Skytrain stations to take the Skytrain to their

    office. He continues and says that almost every department store nowadays

    try to have a Skywalk from the Skytrain station to their building. The

    Skywalk and the Skytrain has affected the way we shop and the way we

    live, but only for the high and middle-income people, he says. Also people

    use the Skytrain as a shortcut, on one occasion he says, he was going to a

    wedding ceremony in Thonburi. Mr Vasin parked his car at Asoke and

    used the Skytrain to Saphan Thaksin, he mentions that if he had to drive all

    the way to Thonburi it would take him about 2 hours because it was Friday

    evening, now with the Skytrain it took him only about 40 minutes to the


    According to Mr Vasin, the Skytrain is a symbol of modern living in

    Bangkok. That is because the Condominiums and Apartments use the

    Skytrain or the MRT as part of their advertisement as a convenient method

    to travel around the city.

    Mr Vasin thinks that the other major role of the Skytrain system, to solve

    the traffic problem didnt success in a larger portion, because the Skytrain

    only have two routes, and do not have a network. He continues and

    mentions the cities of New York, London or Singapore, they have a

    network but Bangkok hasnt. In Bangkok the MRT belongs to the

    Government and the Skytrain belongs to the BMA, and the buses belongs

    to other authorities he says. Mr Vasin continues and says that it will be

  • 36

    very hard to make the networks connect to each other, because the BMA

    dont want to give the Skytrain to the Government, but the BMA itself

    dont have money to invest into a new route, and the government want to

    develop their own system. To solve this problem Mr Vasin thinks that there

    must be a master plan for the transportation network, and think about how

    to connect the networks to each other.

    The worst bottlenecks for the traffic is according to Mr Vasin are located at

    the route of the Skytrain, that is Sukhumvit and Silom, that is because there

    are many junctions and the road is quite narrow he says. The reason he

    thinks the bottlenecks are still there and why the Skytrain has not eased the

    bottlenecks are because of the behavior of the people. He makes an

    example. If people lives in Bang Na, in a really nice house, and belongs to

    the high-income people and have his office in Silom, the person doesnt

    take the Skytrain. Instead the person would likely drive his own car or even

    a hired driver is going to drive the car, and if they not live in a condo in the

    city, they not going to take the Skytrain anyway he says. The middle-

    income are going by bus, cab or even drive his or her own car. Mr Vasin

    says that they only use the Skytrain as a short connection. He thinks that if

    Bangkok would have a network system, he would use it to go by bus to the

    nearest Skytrain station.

    Another aspect is that the car shows the status of its owner, and Mr Vasin

    reflects that getting stuck in a car is better than getting stuck on a public


  • 37

    5.2 Results from Secondary Data

    The results from the secondary materials show similar information as from

    the interview.

    Most of the Skytrain users are people between the age of 15 to 40 years and

    they are often students or early-stage working people. The people that work

    use the Skytrain for working purpose and the non-working people use the

    Skytrain for leisure.69

    The majority of people use a feeder in their travel. The most common

    feeders are buses and walking to the station for the working and non-

    working people. The greater part of people changed from using bus to

    using Skytrain instead, a comparatively small group of people changed

    from using private vehicle to the Skytrain for the equivalent trip purpose.

    Because of the high cost of the Skytrain compared to buses most users still

    use the buses as a main transportation method.70

    According to Thanaprayochsak there must be an improvement in the

    interchange between different modes of public transport. Today it is not

    common to have connection between two public transport modes. The

    connection between public transports experience a lack of corresponding

    services between them. The integration of bus services with the rail transit

    systems ought to be improved.71

    The Institutions in Thailand that are responsible for transport policies are

    undertaking similar mass transit projects. The BMA, SRT (State Railway

    of Thailand) and MRTA are doing mass transit projects in the same area,

    meanwhile there are developments that no assigned Institution is

    responsible for such as distributor roads, bus ways and area pricing. The

    government of Thailand tried to solve this issue when they set up the 69 Kawprasert A. (2000), Page. 104. 70 Ibid. Page. 104-105. 71 Thanaprayochsak W. (2005), Page. 89.

  • 38

    OCMRT (Office of the Commission for Management of Road Traffic) to

    act as a policy office, but this didnt solve the problem of the system.72

    In Bangkok there are about 11 institutions that state their responsibility of

    the development of the transport sector, the result of this are uncontrolled

    efforts to resolve the transport problem.73

    The transportation policy in Thailand is established around a traditional

    top-down approach. The result from the top-down perspective is that the

    suggestions that are reflected as solutions are considerable professional

    proposals and lack broad public support. The outcome of this approach is

    that the transportation problems still exist today, regardless of the attempts

    to solve them in the past.74

    The privatization of mass transit projects in Thailand is common because

    the government has been unwilling to invest in projects due to high total

    investment budget.75 The total cost for the Skytrain project was around 52

    million Baht, and was given as a BOT to Bangkok Mass Transit System

    Public Company Limited.76

    Today there are no restrictions or regulations that are effective in a

    controlling context of using a private car on the main traffic congested


    Today the elevated rail transit known, as the Skytrain and the underground

    Subway are not accessible to all public transport users, the bus transport

    will continue to remain the main transport mode, even thus this transport

    mode do not have a satisfactory service standard. The Skytrain network

    together with the underground Subway system does not have the capacity

    to serve the total demand for public transport, therefore the bus service will

    72 Simtarakao K. (2000), Page. 19. 73 Thanaprayochsak W. (2005), Page. 89. 74 Ibid. Page. 89. 75 Simtarakao K. (2000), Page. 19. 76 Tangkitsiri W. (2004), Page. 23. 77 Thanaprayochsak W. (2005), Page. 90.

  • 39

    still have a huge number of passengers.78 The availability of the Skytrain in

    large community areas is not good, as most of these communities dont

    have a Skytrain station.79

    For the low income and poor, the Skytrain fare is expensive so this group

    will not use this transportation mode because they cannot afford it. The

    current fare does it impossible to fulfil the objective that the mass rapid

    transport service should be available for all inhabitants in Bangkok. Both

    the Skytrain and the underground network are a very good mode for

    transportation, a subsidy from the government on these networks will

    induce the community to use these services and will decrease the number

    of car users and car owners.80

    The Bangkok mass transit network is not consistent and the need of a

    network master plan is required to show the future network and to make the

    network dependable.81

    Today all new mass transit projects develop on an underground alignment

    level in the inner region of Bangkok. The major reason is that the Skytrain

    has a negative visual impact as well as a noise disorder in the system. This

    policy was undertaken after the contracts of the Skytrain were signed.82

    The income levels for the user characteristics divided by the private car,

    BTS Skytrain and bus are the following. The private car is usually used by

    males that are between 41-60 years and has an income that is higher than

    35001 baht per month. The private car group have usually an education

    higher than Bachelor degree or higher. It is usual that this group have 1-3

    car in their household. Females that are between 21-40 years represent the

    BTS Skytrain group. They have a Bachelor degree or higher and have a

    monthly income between 25001 35000 baht per month. This group has 78 Thanaprayochsak W. (2005), Page. 90. 79 Ibid. Page. 85. 80 Ibid. Page. 111 112. 81 Simtarakao K. (2000), Page. 21. 82 Simtarakao K. (2000), Page. 20.

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    usually 1 car in the household. The group that is represented by bus are

    between 1-20 years of age and have an income less than 5000 baht per

    month. The education level of this group is usually Primary school or high

    school. Usually the household of this group does not possess a car.83

    83 Thanaprayochsak W. (2005), Page. 70.

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    There are several factors that together influence the usage of the Skytrain

    as a public mass transit transport in Bangkok, and can in some way explain

    why the Skytrain did not become the solution for the traffic issue in

    Bangkok as expected.

    One factor that may affect the usage of the Skytrain on a large scale is the

    lack of a total coverage of the network around and through the big

    settlements and residential areas outside of the inner city of Bangkok.

    Hence as Mr Vasin told in the interview, that the Skytrain wasnt build to

    transport people from their homes to the inner city, the Skytrain would

    probably relief the traffic more than it does today if there were a network

    that covered a bigger area of Bangkok. As of today, more people would use

    the Skytrain services if there were a feeder service that could provide

    satisfactory service quality to and from the Skytrain station, the buses

    today, many of them has not been equipped with aircon and that influences

    people to go by to a destination with their own car instead.

    It is not only the deficient coverage of the Skytrain over the Bangkok area

    and the poor service of the feeder transports that reduces the choice for the

    people of Bangkok to use the Skytrain. There are also valuation factors that

    influence the people of Bangkok to use their own car to travel around the

    city instead of using public transportation methods. There is a very big gap

    between being wealthy in Bangkok and being poor, that results in that

    people are very fond to show off with various items, and the people that

    can afford a car, gets a car and use it when they travel around Bangkok. It

    has become a lifestyle to own and use a car in Bangkok. The car usage is

    also for many car owners a convenient way to not be exposed to the heat

    and the sun while going from one point in the city to another. Even if many

    car owners live near the Skytrain routes, they will take the car, in order to

    be able to reach destinations that are not accessible by the Skytrain.

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    The behaviour of the car user in Bangkok must change in order to reduce

    the traffic and as the result mentioned, there are only a minority of car

    users that switched to the Skytrain when it became available as a method of

    transportation. From that one can make some conclusions why that is, first,

    maybe the person is living outside of Bangkok and must use the car to

    work, the total cost to use the car is cheaper than taking a feeder to the

    Skytrain station and then the Skytrain to the final destination. The other is

    that he is very wealthy and maybe has his own driver and wants to show

    off and dont care if it takes time to travel because he is not driving the car

    and can do other things in the car meanwhile he is on the road.

    A subsidy from the government can allow poor people in a larger scale to

    use the Skytrain around the inner city of Bangkok so they can benefit from

    it. Today, most of the poor people transport themselves with buses without

    aircon, if a lower price was being available with a subsidy or lower ticket

    prices, perhaps some of the buses that are in use would disappear from the

    streets in the inner part of Bangkok. That would maybe make a relief in the

    traffic on the inner streets of Bangkok.

    Overall, the whole Skytrain system would be more frequent used if it

    covered a larger area than it does today, with extensions to some of the big

    settlements were people live. Today this is somehow difficult to propose

    and solve, as the institutions that handle transportation issues are so many

    and want to hold on to their own project. There may also be some problem

    to extend the Skytrain to these big settlements as the environment and the

    existing infrastructure makes it troublesome to build a Skytrain line there.

    For the people of Bangkok, the Skytrain should be extended to the large

    community areas if its possible, and not only cover the inner city where

    only a minority of people are actually living. The institutions that handle

    the transportation issues ought to have a more open minded holistic

    approach towards each other to solve the public transportation problem and

    not only care about their own projects. The behaviour towards car usage

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    may change if these fore-mentioned problems are solved and with it, the

    car usage may decrease towards a larger usage of public transportation in


    Hence, to help to solve the constant traffic jam and transportation issues of

    Bangkok, a better coverage of the Skytrain and subway to the big

    settlements would be a first step and second, try to change the attitude

    towards car usage among the people in Bangkok. How to change the

    attitude is another question that would require further studies in this


  • 44


    The Skytrain has been operated since 1999 and have helped serve the

    people in Bangkok with their demands on travel with the advantage as a

    mass transit mode compared with the buses and other transports modes in

    the city. This thesis will research if the Skytrain was planned to serve a

    majority of the people in Bangkok and if the majority of the people use this

    transport mode at a daily basis.

    The following questions were interesting to research to try to find a

    conclusion of why the Skytrain, as a mass transport mode, did not become

    as effective.

    Was the planning of the Skytrain optimal in Bangkok?

    Are there any underlying factors that influence the people not to use

    the Skytrain?

    What advantages and disadvantages have the other public

    transportation modes compared Skytrain in Bangkok?

    Do the Skytrain have a future as mass transit transport in Bangkok?

    Do the poor people benefit from the Skytrain development?

    The method that was used was primarily based on a theoretical approach

    were previous studies on Mass Rapid Transits lead to a conclusion based

    on mostly secondary sources and data that are relevant to the subject. The

    sources and data used for this study are foremost gathered from the

    Internet, from UN (United nations) branches, databases, different NGOs

    (Non Governmental Organisations) and from the Thai government. The

    data gathered contains published reports, newspaper articles and thesis.

    Because of the outline of a MFS (Minor Field Studies) scholarship thesis

    the proper work method must include a large theoretical study. A quantity

  • 45

    of fieldwork studies will be included, for example an interview with a

    person that has the proper knowledge about the subject of study.

    The results and conclusions show that there are several insufficient

    sources that together make it difficult to make the Skytrain become

    efficient and more usable for the people of Bangkok. The main reason that

    people of Bangkok not use the Skytrain to a greater degree is that the

    Skytrain lines do not access the bigger settlements and communities were

    people are actually living. The Skytrain lines do only stretch along the

    tourist districts and the business districts today, and leaves out the

    settlements. There are also other reasons like the attitude towards car

    usage. Many people that can afford to buy a car, not only see the car as a

    transportation mode, but also as a status symbol. The lifestyle here in

    Bangkok points out that it is important to own a car. Also the car provides

    protection from the heat and the sunlight as well as provides the people to

    access parts of Bangkok that are not accessible by the Skytrain.

    Also the results and conclusions show that there is a need of better feeder

    service to and from the Skytrain stations, as for today, the feeder service

    consists of buses without provided aircon. As for the more poor people, a

    subsidy could allow them to get a benefit of using the Skytrain, as the

    prices today are relatively expensive for the poor people.

    There is also a need to use a more open minded holistic approach when

    planning the transportation infrastructure in Bangkok. There are many

    institutions today that handle the transportation issues and they are eager to

    only care about their own projects and not the other institutions.

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    Hence, to help to solve the constant traffic jam and transportation issues of

    Bangkok, a better coverage of the Skytrain and subway to the big

    settlements would be a first step and second, try to change the attitude

    towards car usage among the people in Bangkok. How to change the

    attitude is another question that would require further studies in this


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    8.1 Books and Reports

    Dearborn, Fitzroy (1999): Encyclopedia of World Cities. Maple-Vail,

    Binghamton, NY.

    Halcrow Fox, World Bank. Internet. (2005-11-05)

    World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review -

    Mass Rapid Transit in Developing Countries


    Holme Idar Magne, Solvang Bernt Krohn, (1996): Forskningsmetodik, Studentlitteratur. Lund.

    Kawprasert, A. (2000): Travel Behaviour Analysis for Elevated Mass

    Rapid Transit in Bangkok. Bangkok: Asian Institute of Technology (AIT),


    Kenworthy, J. Internet. (2005-10-02):

    Automobile dependence in Bangkok: an international comparison with

    implications for planning policies.

    Mackett et al. Internet. (2006-05-16): The Impact of Urban public

    Transport Systems: Will the Expectations be Met?





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    Lynn, Daniel (2004): Regional surveys of the world: The far east and

    Australasia 2005, 36 edition. Europa Publications, London.

    Simtarakao, K. (2000): The Impact of Bangkok Transit System Services

    on The Traffic Conditions in Bangkok. Bangkok: Asian Institute of

    Technology (AIT), 2000.

    Tangkitsiri, W. (2004): A Study on The Achievement of The Benefits of a

    Build-Operate-Transfer Project: The Case of The Bangkok Mass Transit

    System (BTS). Bangkok: Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), 2004.

    Thanaprayochsak W. (2005): Application Economic Instruments to

    Influence Peoples Decision On Choice of Transportation Mode Towards

    Reducing Car Use in Bangkok. Bangkok: Asian Institute of Technology

    (AIT), 2005.

    World Bank. Internet. (2005-11-11)

    Cities on the move


    World Book, Inc (1999): The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 19

    Letter T. World Book, Inc, Chicago, IL

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    8.2 Internet

    2Bangkok. Internet. (2005-11-09):

    Bangkok Posts Economic review 2005. Internet. (2005-11-02)

    Facts & Figures

    Bangkok Metropolitan Area. Internet. (2005-11-02)


    Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited. Internet. (2005-


    8.3 Interviews

    Assumption University. The Faculty of Architecture. (2006-03-29),

    Lecturer Mr Vasin Thammanuban.