Bangkok Bus and BRT News 2004-2010

BRT off to a sluggish start amid heavy traffic - The Nation, June 1, 2010

BRT begins service - June 1, 2010

Richard reports: I went to test out the BRT dedicated bus route today. I posted live updates and pictures on Twitter as I went along.
Here are some links for my moblog and video taken with my iPhone: A Ride on the BRT Dedicated Bus - Video
I went non-stop to Ratchaphuek by BRT and then came back by taxi to see
which is faster. The taxi took 27 minutes (including about 7 minutes when he got lost and had to do a u-turn) and cost 137 baht. The BRT bus took 51 minutes & was free. The bus drivers had trouble on approach to the stations and crashed into the platform a few times. They are hoping after practice to get this down to 30 minutes per run.
I know this is old news, but the David Beckham temple has its own station now at BRT Wat Pariwat.
Finally, I have a google map with pictures showing the stations on the route. I have already started to explore the route to add tourist attractions.

BMA launches first BRT line - The Nation, May 31, 2010

[We are now back to the days of the Bangkok trams when a tram line stretched down Rama III Road.

(Photo: Steve)

BRT testing - May 28, 2010
Steve reports: I took these snaps this evening from our condo on Rama III (overlooking the Wat Pariwat BRT station). It looks like they are testing the buses (above) and possibly testing out other drivers' responses to the bus lanes actually being used by buses!
It really looked like they were trying to teach commuters a lesson - traffic stuck behind the three buses tried to drive over the curb stones, with the result that one truck got very stuck (below)...

(Photo: Steve)

BRT stalled? - March 4, 2009
Wes notes: I work at Sathorn and Narathiwat and I couldn't help noticing that the construction on the BRT stations has stopped. In fact it stopped in December. The foundations are there, even the escalators under blue tarps, but since putting in the frame for the roof the workers have disappeared. Given the history of transport instrastructure in this town, I can't help but suspect the worst -- that the project has stalled for political or financial reasons...

Another BRT delay on cards - Bangkok Post, October 28, 2008
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) says City Hall should suspend its Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) project until it concludes inquiries into alleged irregularities in the 300 million baht purchase of 45 buses...

City bus plan still getting flak - Bangkok Post, August 19, 2008
While the Transport Ministry remains upbeat about its plan to lease 6,000 new air-conditioned buses to improve the public bus service, critics are still unconvinced it is the right solution for the debt-ridden Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA)...

No bidders in e-auction for Bus Rapid Transit - The Nation, November 12, 2007
...According to deputy city clerk Ratthapol Meethanathavorn, companies might have been reluctant to bid for the project because the BMA clearly states that it will impose a Bt777,554 daily fine on the successful bidder if it fails to provide the vehicles within the specified date...

(Photo: Dick van der Spek)

Bus photos in 1981 - November 5, 2008
Above: Charan Chanitwongroad, not far from Phrarambridge.
Below: Klong Toey

(Photo: Dick van der Spek)

Rapid bus system delayed - Critics say dedicated lane for new service would worsen congestion - The Nation, October 29, 2007
Poor outcome seen for city BRT bus plan - Bangkok Post, August 30, 2007
...Mr Prapat said the project was supposed to carry about 20,000 commuters a day while the BRT has the capacity to take 80 commuters per trip.
He added the fare may not be enough incentive for people to leave their cars at home and ride the BRT.
Commuters may be reluctant to pay the fare, proposed at between 12-18 baht a trip, especially if they have to connect with other mass transit modes.
A single ticket for all mass transit systems would help solve the problem, as it would increase convenience.

Second BRT route planned - The Nation, July 21, 2007
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has announced plans to build a second Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route, from Nonthaburi's Pak Kret to Bangkok's Mor Chit...

Official BRT website - April 10, 2007

(Photo: Jerry)

BRT construction - April 3, 2007
Jerry reports:
Unique Engineering have been dropping off red and white curbside barriers at each proposed BRT stop along the Narathiwat/Rama 3 route. There is also a sign (picture attached) in Thai regretting the inconvenience and saying it will be finished early 2551.

BMA may sign contract next month to build bus rapid transit routes - The Nation, January 17, 2007
First BRT route to open next year - Bangkok Post, January 18, 2007

Capital to get its first city rapid bus route - The Nation, January 4, 2007

Rapid bus route gets nod - Bangkok Post, January 4, 2007
...The project had two primary routes--the Chong Nonsi-Bangkok Bridge and the 19.5-km Nawamin-Kasetsart routes.
But the government only gave the go-ahead for the Chong Nonsi-Bangkok Bridge route because a special bus lane for the other route has not yet been completed, said government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalap.
He said the Transport Ministry had no plans to build the rapid bus lane anytime soon as it feared the project would only worsen traffic congestion on Phaholyothin road, where traffic is always bad.
The approved BRT route starts from Surawong road, heads to Narathiwat Ratchanakarin and Rama III roads, then crosses the Chao Phraya river at Rama III bridge, and ends at Ratchaphruek intersection. Commuters will be able to board the bus at 17 stops. Rapid buses will be allowed to pass through red lights at intersections to speed up the journey.

BMTA to decommission all non-air-conditioned buses - The Nation, August 5, 2006
Transport Ministry prepared for Thailand's liberalization of passenger bus services - TNA, May 31, 2006
Thailand's city and inter-provincial bus services are being improved to meet the government's standard in preparation for the planned liberalization of the country's passenger bus services, according to Deputy Transport Minister Gen. Chainant Charoensiri...

Rapid bus service runs out of steam - The Nation, February 24, 2006
The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service, a pet project of Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin, is likely to flop due to several setbacks, especially the lack of money, demand and governmental support, a city official said yesterday...

End tipped for rapid bus scheme - Democrats worried support will suffer - Bangkok Post, February 24, 2006
City incumbents fear BRT will be tough sell - Bangkok Post, January 11, 2006
... A party source said they were worried that buses running on the Navamin-Kaset-Mor Chit route under the BRT scheme would worsen traffic on nearby Phahon Yothin road and that could upset voters.
Under the scheme, the buses would run in the right lane of roads, alongside traffic islands.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has postponed the launch of the BRT service several times.
... Critics have accused the government of dragging its feet in approving the operations of the BRT bus routes. So far, the issue has not yet been put on the cabinet agenda for consideration.
The source said the Democrat councillors wanted the BRT service to be launched after the city council election...

4,000 new buses, shorter routes - Transfer ticket plan should cut congestion - Bangkok Post, January 9, 2005
The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) will start revamping bus routes this month and deploy 4,000 new air-conditioned buses in a major exercise to provide Bangkok commuters with a more convenient and safer bus service...

Bidding for the Bangkok Smartway (BRT) - translated and summarized from Bangkok Biznews, November 15, 2005
The winners of the bidding for the Bangkok Smartway are
1) Mochit - Kaset - Nawamin - Rama Indra km 8: ITD -> 705 million baht
2) Chong Nonsee - Bangkok Bridge: Unique Engineering & Construction -> 681 million baht
However, BMA has to negotiate the price with ITD and Unique Eng. since both are higher than the medium price of 682 million baht for the Kaset route and 660 million baht for the Phra Ram 3 route. BMA would have to call a new bid if both companies refuse to cut the budget.
The delay on the construction would result in a fine of 0.005 of the total construction cost per day.
If both companies sign the contract with BMA, they have to finish the project in 180 days before testing the system which consists of
1) Stations with elevators and flyovers along with aircon systems -> 18 stations for Mochit - Nawamin - Ram Indra route (19.5 km) and 16 stations from Surawongse to The Mall Tha Phra (16.5 km) which is better than the stations on the first route.
2) Separated tracks to prevent private cars from entering the BRT route (except at interchanges and u-turns) along with yellow paint for BRT routes on interchanges and U-turns
3) Power lines and computers to control the system.
BMA has to discuss with the Highway Department and Provincial Highway Department to allow the construction of BRT routes on the roads under their jurisdiction.

BRT stations - November 1, 2005
Wisarut found these maps of BRT stations at the BMA Traffic Bureau website: Mochit - Nawamin - Khanna Yao line and Chong Nonsee - Rama 3- Ratchapruek Road

BMA investing in 'Smart Ways' (BRT) - translated and summarized from Thairath and Dailynews, October 25, 2005
The budget for the Bangkok Smart Way by Krungthep Thanakhom for the first two routes [Mochit - Nawamin - Ramindra km 8, Chong Nonsee - Rajapruek] is 2.298 billion baht.
1) Before the actual services [October 2005 - June 2006] - 0.0872 billion baht
2) After the actual services [July 2006 - July 2011] - 2.2109 billion baht
Krungthep Thanakhom would run the advertising deal on the stations and buses in addition to collecting tickets while Krungthep Thanakhom would pay 10% of revenue to BMA.
There will be 463 officers for the Bangkok Smart Way and they would spend 27.28 million baht on PR and marketing to boost the image of the project which will be allocated as follows:
14.94 million baht for TV commercials, radio commercials, magazine commercials, advertising signs pamphlets, and websites.
1.5 million baht for opening the project
4.5 million baht for community and education institute participation
There will be 18.40 million baht/month for salaries which can be allocated as follows:
120,000 baht for the general manager
18,000 baht for secretariat
85,000 baht for operating manager
18,000 baht for each BRT driver
10,000 baht for each security guard
85,000 baht for PR manager
30,000 baht for financial director
8,500 baht for each maid and janitor
10,000 baht for each telephone operator
15.7 million baht for bureau expenses
11.44 million baht/month for analysis and plans which can be allocated as follows:
250,000 baht for the expert managers
1,800,000 baht for foreign personnel
7,300,000 baht for fuel and testing
6,270,000 baht for administration
791,800 baht for erecting the directing signs and fare collecting.
After opening, the expense will be allocated as follows:
1) Building maintenance - 342.64 million baht
2) Constant expenses such as salary of 1118.45 million baht
3) Various expenses such as fuel, tickets, marketing and PR of 749.84 million baht
The personnel expense is the greatest expense, especially the consultant expenses.
BMA Traffic Bureau has hired PCI to be the project consultant.
More details can be seen here: Thaiinsider, Daily News, Thairath
BMA Smart Way is here: Daily News, Thairath
Political football between BMA and the Central Government: Khom Chad Luek

Earlier: BRT bidding postponed indefinitely due to red tape - Manager Daily, October 11, 2005

Nine BRT mockups - October 1, 2005
Nine BRT mockups from the Transport Ministry (2.72MB/pdf)

BRT bidding postponed indefinitely due to red tape - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, October 11, 2005
ITD, STECON, and Unique Engineering have submitted the bidding for both lines of BRT (Bangkok Smart Ways). BMA was given a license to run the service and the BMA Traffic Bureau feels confident that the Bangkok Smart Way will be ready for a test run in June 2006 and open for service on August 9, 2006.
However, a cabinet resolution has granted BMTA a monopoly on bus routes in Bangkok and vicinity, so Krungthep Thanakhom and BMA are not allowed to run BRT services. BRT is considered a bus service. BMA would have to ask for an exemption from the government. This would be really hard if not impossible to do despite the fact that Land Transportation has granted permission for BMA to run BRT services.
Note: BMA would now feel outraged that TRT has stabbed them in the back again by lulling them into complacency with Land Transportation's license and then stabbing them in the back later using bureaucracy.

BRT in Los Angeles - October 14, 2005
Victor writes: I was checking out 2Bangkok the other night, and noticed the BRT brochure posted. I checked out the photos, and thought the buses looked real familiar. I then realized that I just saw a news segment on our Local ABC7 channel, featuring the opening of the Metro Orange Line.
I decided to track down the website and thought I'd share it with you. The planned BRT for Bangkok looks very similar to the Metro Orange Line. (At least, we now know that the system works, and its currently running in the Valley) What I thought the coolest part of the system, is that they have a 14 mile bike path, designed with art, and each station is designed differently by different artists to show a different decor.
I don't think it would be the same for Bangkok because of the limited spaces we have for developing such a line. It seems like, (from the digitally generated graphics, at least) they are building these routes over current busy streets. Please check out their website.

Only Chong Nonsee-Kalaprapruek Road Smart Way (BRT) to be constructed - translated and summarized from Thairath, October 7, 2005
The bidding for a contractor for the Bangkok Smart Way (BRT) will be started on October 11, 2005. Krungthep Thanakhom will have to run the Bangkok Smart Way project so the contract with Krungthep Thanakhon will be singed on October 10. They expect that the Bangkok Smart Way from Chong Nonsee will be opened in June 2006.
BMA and Krungthep Thanakhon said they are worried about these issues:
1. The delay on Mochit-Nawamin Smart Way due to the fact that the Highway Department is still in charge on Kaset-Nawamin Road and the middle of the road will have pillars from the Expressway Authority. Therefore, cooperation with ETA (they plan to construct an expressway) and the Highway Department (handling the Kaset Tunnel construction) is a must.
2. Cooperation between the BMA Traffic Bureau and Krungthep Thanakhon is still plagued with red tape and BMA and members of the BMA Council and District Council still does not fully trust Krungthep Thanakhom.
3. The payment between Krungthep Thanakhom and BMA will follow the regulation of BMA. No special payment allowed unless they can show evidence.

BRT likely on Rama 3 only - Bangkok Post, October 8, 2005
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is likely to develop its Bus Rapid Transport system (BRT) only on the Rama III route because of possible problems on the other route from Navamin to Mor Chit. Senior officials of the BMA and its subsidiary Krung Thep Thanakhom Co, the BRT developer, met yesterday to discuss the mass transit service that will feature convoys of air-conditioned buses on dedicated lanes to function as feeders for the BTS electric train system.
The meeting discussed the Rama III route that stretches from Rachaphruek road to the Chong Nonsi station of the BTS railway and the Kaset-Navamin route from the eighth kilometre marker of Ram Intra road to the BTS depot in Mor Chit.
The delegation foresaw the possibility that only the Rama III route could be finished and opened next June, as planned. The other route would have to be built on the Kaset-Navamin road where the Highways Department owns the road surface and the Expressway and Rapid Transit Authority supervises the road island. Complications are expected with coordination of the state agencies on the Kaset-Navamin road.
In addition, the route will pass the congested Kaset-Phahon Yothin junction, causing traffic problems during construction. The bidding contest for the Rama III route will take place next Tuesday.

Call for massive Bus Rapid Transport system to end city's traffic woes - The Nation, September 13, 2005
A leading academic think-tank has proposed a radical approach to Bangkok's traffic congestion by suggesting authorities sacrifice half the city's main roads in favour of developing a comprehensive Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system.
The first "Bangkok Road Map" released yesterday covers seven major proposals for the city's development over the next decade. It was prepared by the Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment (JGSEE) and funded by the National Research Council as a suggestion paper for both the government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)...

BMA going to run BRT services - translated and summarized from Dailynews, July 11, 2005
BMA Traffic Bureau has concluded the details for the bidding on the first 2 BMA BRT lines.
1) Khannayao [Ram Indra Km 8] - Nawamin - Kaset - Mochit (19.5 km)
2) Chong Nonsee - Rama 3 - Bangkok Bridge - Ratchapruek (16.5 km)
with a total budget of 2.795 billion baht which includes 64 BRT buses (0.8 billion baht) - either leasing 100 million baht a year or purchasing the new ones, 0.3 billion baht signals and the rest are for the tracks and stations. BMA is going to run the service by hiring the private sector without a joint venture to prevent regulation.
The bid form selling for the private sector, the contractors and the BRT suppliers would started in July 20-31, 2005 to start the bidding process in September 2005. The construction is to start in October 2005 and be ready for service in May 2006
However the section form Mochit to Kaset has a provision that the station and signals must be the knockdown type made from steel once the construction of the Phaholyothin extension [Mochit -Kaset - Saphanmai] starts so as to move those stations to other place such as the extension form Kanna Yao to Fashion Island, etc.

BRT delay: BMA to transfer the chief of BMA transportation bureau - translated and summarized from Bangkok Biznews, June 21, 2005 and Dailynews, June 22, 2005
Both BRT lines have been delayed. Bidding will be at the end of July instead of June. The reasons for this delay are due to modification of stations, requiring slimmer islands in the middle of the road to accommodate BRT with little compromise on road lanes at Nawamin Road and Phaholyothin Road.
Furthermore, the installation of traffic lights at the u-turns along Narathiwat route is necessary since u-turn lanes along that road has share the same BRT lane.
The review on bus procrument--leasing vs. purchasing 64 BRT buses with Euro 3 diesel engines and a price tag of 700 million baht. Euro 3 engines can be modified into NGV engines later on if diesel fuel becomes too expensive. NGV stations are too few at present.
The first 2 BRT lines are
1) Kaset - Nawamin [Ram Indra km 8 - Nawamin - Lad Pla Khao - Kaset - Mochit -> 19.5km]
2) Narathiwat Ratchanakharin [Chong Nonsee - Rama 3 - Bangkok Bridge - Ratchapruek - 16.5 km]
Krungthep Thanakhom will control the BRT service and they have to hire BMTA to run the BRT service.
The delay of bidding has dashed the hopes of opening BRT in March 2006. The new deadline is May 2006 to serve those students at the beginning of the school year in 2006.
However, Governor Abhirak has to transfer Chief Thaweesak out of BMA Traffic Bureau due to his failure to deliver BRT on time and push Chief Taweesak to work as BMA General Inspector [a very low profile job]. Khunyaing Pakorn (BMA City Clerk) agrees with Governor Abhirak about this punishment.

BRT hitting another hurdle - translated and summarized from Dailynews, June 8, 2005
[As has mentioned for some time, do not expect BRT lines any time soon.]
BMA said the first two lines of BRT projects have to be delayed to March 2006 but may have another delay due to the Joint Venture Act of BE 2535 which is quite a tough law to get around. BMA has no experience in running a bus service. BMA could only purchase BRT buses and construct the tracks while BMA and the private companies may have to pass the environmental assessment and get cabinet approval--even the Samrong and Taksin Skytrain extensions have been delayed by the cabinet due to political vendettas.
BMA may have ask Krungthep Thanakhom (State Enterprise of BMA) to run BRT without a private joint venture, but Krungthep Thanakhom has no experience running a bus service--so it may have to hire BMTA, BRT or BMCL and Microbus to run the system without sharing.

BRT: No conclusive decisions - translated and summarized from Dailynews, May 25, 2005
The BMA Deputy Governor said BMA has set up the BRT Project Bureau and sent men from the BMA Transportation Bureau to settle issues such as the Kaset Tunnel.
Furthermore, BRT Project Bureau is going to hire the consultant this July to handle ticket prices, the system, the depots and maintenance center, as well as the concession holders and who will run the systems.
BMA decides to purchase BRT buses instead of leasing since purchasing can be done much faster than leasing. The concession holders would pay the lease to BMA. The BRT buses must be Euro 3 Diesel Engine since there are more petrol stations than NGV stations available. Even if the central government has imposed the decree to change the fuel from Diesel to NGV, BMA feels convinced that they can change the engines into NGV. BMA Traffic Bureau has drafted the TOR on BRT route construction and BRT bus procurement. The bidding and the construction could be started in August 2005 and the project will be done by March 2006.
However, this BRT policy is definitely running into conflict with the BMA Treasury office that prefers leasing over purchasing to cut the maintenance burden.
BMA has not come up with the plan for the concession holder in the case they need a bailout. However, it is a case of politics which is the main force that pushes purchasing instead of leasing to be able to get it done as soon as possible to beat TRT in the next General Election.
BMA will eventually face the dilemma with concession holders soon after finishing the line. Bailing out the concession holder too much will punch a big hole in the BMA treasury. Asking the private concession holders to take some burden will force the concession holders to hike fares. This should be settled before purchasing the buses and equipment.

More delays for the BRT - translated and summarized from Thairath, May 18, 2005
There will be a delay on BRT project since BMA can not decide whether they should buy or lease 100 sets of BRT buses, and the type of BRT bus engines--either Euro3 Diesel or NGV. The construction of the Kaset tunnel and the extension from Bangkok Bridge to Rajapruek Road as well as the extension from Nawamin to Km 8 have compelled them to redesign the routes.

From the Thai-language press: BRT controversies - translated and summarized from Manager Weekly, April 22-28, 2005 and Dailynews, April 22, 2005
Governor Abhirak is trying to beat premier Thaksin by introducing BRT as a cheap alternative to the 500 billion baht mass transit projects. BMA has refused to let BMTA and OTP participation in the BRT project.
After BMA has ignited fury from BMTA by telling BMTA and OTP not to meddle in BMA's handling of BRT, a member of BMA council told the press that he afraid that BRT may never get started due to many Irregularities such as:
1) Purchasing BRT buses instead of leasing the BRT buses--a big source of corruption and collusion. Leasing would leave the burden on the maintenance on the supplier instead of BMA.
2) No feeder system for BRT to increase the number of passengers.
3) The feuds with BMTA on BRT issues will render the BRT system useless. BMA better hire either BTS, BMTA or BMCL to handle the BRT services instead.
The BMA Board refuses to answer the BRT issues raised by the BMA Council which is an indication of corruption and collusion. The same can be said about the collusion on Smart Traffic sign procurement.
Also: Responses on BMA handling of BRT - BMA Q & A on BRT - BMA Article about BRT - BMA article about Smart Bus Stop - BMA Article about Smart Taxi Stop - BMA Smart Traffic Sign - BMA website about BMA BRT - Big BRT Map
For help with Thai acronyms, check the glossary

Transport Co only just trundles along - Bangkok Post, April 1, 2005
.. Politics has consumed Bor Khor Sor for years, maybe decades, and enfeebled the agency.
...Staff say politicians demand kickbacks from private bus operators in exchange for long contracts. They said these kickbacks can vary from 500,000 baht to multi-million-baht payments, depending on the popularity of the route, some of which are virtual monopolies.
This acts as a disincentive to operators to improve their services once they have signed a contract. Passengers on some routes must make do with old, unsafe and dirty buses, and are left to wonder how these vehicles manage to pass their yearly inspections by the Land Transport Department.
...The buses themselves illustrate the company's inefficiency, said one company staff member. The Transport Co buses are powered by a rich assortment of engines: Mercedes Benz from Germany, Isuzu from Japan, Volvo from Sweden and Daewoo from South Korea. Using different engines adds to maintenance costs, he said, but this was the result of more political interference...

Route extension plans delay service opening - Bangkok Post, March 25, 2005
Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin has postponed the opening of the city's Bus Rapid Transit service (BRT), after a consultant proposed extensions to the first two routes.
An adviser to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration on the BRT project, Pacific Consultants International Co has proposed that the Mor Chit-Kaset-Navamin route should instead start from the Navamin-Ram Intra kilometre 8 intersection southward on Navamin road, turn right to Kaset-Navamin road and turn left to Phahon Yothin road until reaching the Mor Chit bus terminal.
The extended route is 19.5 kilometres long and will have 18 stations built at intersections, crowded areas and electric train stations.
The Chong Nonsee-Rama III-Rachaphruek route will start at the Surawong intersection, go on Narathiwat Rachanakharin road, turn right at Rama III road and cross Rama III bridge to Ratchadaphisek road until reaching the Ratchada-Krung Thon Buri intersection...

Earlier: Bangkok’s new rapid bus services to start soon - TNA, March 24, 2005
...The first bus route of nearly 20 km will begin from Navamin Road passing Kasetsart Intersection and end at the Mo Chit bus terminal.
The second route will begin from Chong Nonsee through Rama III area and ends at the Ratchaphruek area, on Bangkok's Thon Buri side...

Busway increases fleet, improves ticketing system - The Jakarta Post, March 5, 2005
News from our neighbors: The TransJakarta Busway Management announced on Friday it had added nine new buses to its existing fleet of 56 buses to cope with large numbers of passengers during the morning and afternoon rush hours...
The busway corridor from Blok M in South Jakarta to Kota in West Jakarta serves about 60,000 passengers during weekdays. That figure drops to 40,000 during weekends because many regular passengers are businesspeople whose offices are located along the 12.9-kilometer corridor...

BRT war - OTP vs BMA - translated and summarized from Dailynews, February 16, 2005
After observing the OTP demonstration of the BRT plan, Deputy Governor Samart told the press that even though OTP did start the study of BRT routes before BMA, OTP has never implemented the BRT service since OTP is just a planning office, not the agency that is going to run BRT services. BMA expects to hand over the OTP plan for nine BRT routes to BMTA. On the other hand, BMA has planned and executed BRT plan at the same time to make a quick traffic resolution according to the new BMA governor's policy.
BMA already has planned 12 BRT routes with a total distance of 185 km including the first 2 lines (Nawamin Intersection - Nawamin Kaset - Mochit [19.5 km] and Surawongse - Chong Nonsee - Rama 3 - Bangkok Bridge - Ratchapruek road [16.5 km])
BMA suspects that OTP refuses to recognize and incorporate the BMA version of the BRT plan into the OTP plan due to the fact that it comes from the Democrat Party while OTP plan has been approved by the TRT Party. This kind of competing plan would confuse the public. Nevertheless, BMA told the press that BMA has to cooperate with OTP and redefine the rolls of each agency so as to push the BMA version into the final plan.
The routes of the new version of the OTP plan are not the same as the BMA plan. However, BMA told the press that it cannot handle all nine routes imposed by OTP because BMA has already planned 12 BRT routes of its own.
The cost to implement the BRT route in the BMA version will have a price tag of 50-70 million baht/km while OTP version is about 50 million baht/km due to the fact that BMA will install escalators and air-conditioning system for very large stations.

OTP coming up with their own version of BRT plan so as not to be outdone by BMA
- translated and summarized from Thairath, February 15, 2005 and Matichon, February 15, 2005
After seeing the BRT plan of BMA, OTP has come up with their own version and invited BMA, Metropolitan Police, BMTA, and the private concession bus and van operators to see the OTP plan.
Metropolitan Police told OTP that they will cooperate with the future operators of BRT for traffic rearrangement. The private bus and van concession holders also told OTP to restore the order for buses and vans which are now in a state of anarchy thanks to BMTA's poor supervision. Electrified buses and vans are also good choices.
OTP has come up with 9 BRT routes with a total distance of 379.72 km can be described as follows:
1) Bang Khae - Rangsit -> 56.80 km
2) Suvannabhum - Donmuang -> 52.57 km
3) Muang Thong Thani - Klong Jan - Samut Prakarn -> 54.30 km
4) Suwinthawongse - Talingchan -> 42.86 km
5) Ram Indra - Nawamin - Phetkasem - Talingchan -> 35.87 km
6) Pra Samut Chedi - Siam Square -> 34.56 km
7) Ekkamai - Southern Bus Terminal -> 22.77 km
8) Rama 2 - Ram Indra -> 58.83 km
9) Rangsit - Chatuchak -> 21.6 km
The average cost is about 50 million baht/km with a total price tag of 18.986 billion baht. There will be stations every 800 meter with automatic fare collectors.
All the routes are not duplicated from BMA's first two routes and BMA also cooperates with OTP to finalize the routes which are to be done in March 2005.

More details of the BRT system - translated and summarized from Matichon, February 9, 2005 and February 11, 2005
BMA Deputy told the press after receiving study results on BRT from PCI and AEC that BMA should either rent BRT articulated buses or purchase the new BRT articulated buses to serve the first 2 lines.
1) Naweamin Intersection (Ram Indra Km 8) - Nawamin - Kaset - Phaholyothin - Mochit Station (19.5 km)
2) Rajapruek - Bangkok Bridge - Rama 3 - Chong Non See - Surawongse (16.5 km)
There will be a station about every 800 meters.
The ticket price will be 10-18 baht.
The highest quality at very reasonable prices will win the bid.
The specifications for the BRT articulated buses are
1) 18-m long
2) 150 passengers/car
3) the floor at the same level as the platform
4) 64 sets of articulated BRT buses - 35 sets for Kaset-Nawamin and 24 sets for Chong Nonsee Rama 3 (5 for standby)
5) 10 million baht/set
The construction for BRT routes will start in April 2005 with 5 new flyovers at Rama 3.
They will use stone blocks with 6-7 inch height as the mark for BRT routes which cars are not supposed to use. However, they will use yellow paint as the mark for BRT routes in some sections such as Kaset intersection, Lad Phrao intersection, Mochit Station and Bangkok Bridge due to busy traffic and they will impose a 1000 baht fine for each car that runs on BRT lanes.
The construction cost will be 2.5 billion baht. New BRT depots at Nawamin Intersection and Ratchapruek Road have to be constructed.
After getting route approval from Land Transportation, BMA would open BRT services in October 2005 and BMA would not ask for the sudden termination of BMTA bus routes.
The estimated number of passengers for Kaset Nawamin route is 40,000 a day while Chong Nonsee - Rama 3 will have 50,000 a day.
BRT service will be handled by the private sector. Either BTS, BMCL or Microbus can handled the BRT system if they want even though BTS should handle BRT as feeder lines for BTS Skytrain to enable them to offer a joint ticket system between BTS and BRT and double the daily passengers from the current level of 400,000 passengers a day. Otherwise, BMA will hire someone else (e.g. BMTA) to handle the BRT service.

Specifications for BRT - 10-18 baht/trip
- translated and summarized from Dailynews, February 9, 2005
BMA, PCI (Thailand) Co. Ltd., and AEC Co. Ltd. has held a meeting about BRT specifications at the BMA Dindaeng Youth Center [Thai-Japanese] on February 8 at 9:30am. There were 120 people attending.
The BRT routes:
1) Km 8 (Charakhe Bua) - Nawamin - Kaset - Mochit (19.5 km)
2) Chong Nonsee - Rama 3 - Bangkok Bridge - Ratchapruiek (16.5 km)
Budget: 2.0-2.5 billion baht (70 million baht/km)
Will run in the center of the road with stone blocks and reflective marks. Cars which go into BRT routes will get a 1000 baht fine. BMA is also asking for BMTA to readjust bus routes so they will compete with each another.
Stations: every 700 meters with flyovers and ticket booths in the same fashion as BTS. Some stations will be air-conditioned. Central Platforms.
Vehicles: Articulated aircon buses with Euro 3 engines with the length of 18-19 meters with 3 doors on the right-hand side. 150 seats.
Service hours: 5am-11pm
Headway: 3 minutes (rush hour) and 5 minutes (non-rush hour)
Ticket price: 10-18 baht
Investment plan: BMA investing on route construction and articulated buses while the private sector will run the services.
Opening date: 2006
Estimated number of passengers:
- 30,000 passengers a day for each route by 2006
- 40,000 passengers a day for each route by 2007
- 80,000-100,000 passengers a day for each route by 2022
The most worrying issues:
- The loss of a traffic lane especially at Lad Phrao intersection and Kaset route
- Profitability--However BMA is going to ensure that the service will be in black.
Submitting the plan: February 9, 2005
Bidding: April 2005
Construction: 6 months
Opened: October, 2005

Governor Apirak comes up with BTS & BRT extensions
- translated and summarized from Manager Daily (here and here), January 31, 2005
1) The pending extensions (8.9 km Samrong Extension and 2.2 km Taksin Extension)
2) The proposed extensions [according to OTP Plan]
2.1) Paknam Extension (Samrong -Samut Prakarn - 7.9 km)
2.2) Phetkasem Extension (Taksin Intersection - Phetkasem - 4.5 km)
2.3) Phaholyothin Extension (Mochit - Saphan Mai - 12 km)
2.4) Rattnakosin Extension (National Stadium - Phrannok - 7.0 km)
Total 31.4 km
The results from studies will be submitted by the end of 2005.
2.5) Saphan Mai - Lum Lookka (14 km) -> under study

3) The first 2 BRT routes modified
3.1) Charakhae Bua (Ram Indra km8) - Nawamin - Kaset - Mochit [Linking Pink Monorail with Blue Line for those who live along Nawamin Road and Kaset-Nawamin]
3.2) Rajaphruek Road (Taksin - Phetkasem road) - Bangkok Bridge - Rama III Road - Chong Nonsee, Surawongse (Linking line to cover the track not covered by Silom line and extensions)

These 2 BRT lines will be constructed in October 2005
4) New BRT lines as replacements for Samak's pet projects
4.1) Suvannabhum BRT (Onnut - Lad Krabang - Suvannabhum Airport -> 20 km)
4.2) Bang Na BRT (Banna - Wat Sri Lam - Ramkhamhaeng 2 -> 8 km)

5) Improving the canal boat services to function as feeders
5.1) Improved Saensaeb line
5.2) Improved Phaseecharoen line
5.3) Revived Lad Phrao line
5.4) Revived Premprachakorn line
5.5) Revived Phadung Krungkaserm line

6) Other traffic accessories
6.1) 200 smart bus stop signs (done in July 2005)
6.2) 150 smart taxi stop signs (done in June 2005)
6.3) 40 smart traffic signs (done in October 2005)
6.4) 34 smart crossing lights (done in July 2005)
However, BMA needs government approval for modifying the conditions to allow BMA to bail BTSC out of trouble.

BRT lines extended to Patthamawikorn and Mahaisawan (Thonburi)
- translated and summarized from Thairath and Matichon, December 16, 2004
BMA Traffic and Transportation Bureau and PCI (Thailand) Co. Ltd. have set up a seminar on BRT as a feeder line to BTS which has the capacity to handle 30,000 passenger/hour/direction. The minimum charge on BRT is 10 baht. BRT requires a marketing strategy to get more passengers so as not to incur heavy losses like the BMTA buses.
Deputy BMA Samart told the people that BRT will have to be extended from Nawamin Road to Patthamawikorn flea market (market near Patthamawikorn suburb village) and from Bangkok Bridge (Bangkok Side) to Thonburi (either Samreh to Tha Phra because the u-turn at the foot of Bangkok Bridge is too narrow). The final route will come out on February 12, 2005. After that BMA will start the construction so as to run the service on October 2005.

'Innovative bus systems offering affordable, clean urban transport for Asia' - ADB, December 8, 2004
[It is amazing how relentlessly BRT systems have been promoted in the last two years. More on Bangkok Busways (Bus Rapid Transit - BRT) & buses]
...Under the BRT system, a section of the road, preferably the central part, is dedicated to buses that work like a light-rail transit system. BRT improves the quality of traffic on roads by putting the buses on a separate track, providing bus stations with level boarding and alighting, pre-pay systems, covered shelters and a place for users to park their cycles. Buses stop at designated stops, are clean, well maintained and the bus staff are well trained.
Realizing the importance of developing safe and sustainable urban transport systems in Asian cities, the ADB-supported Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) has launched a pilot project to develop a sustainable model of urban transport (PSUTA). The project is being tested in Pune, Hanoi and Xi'an. "This project will highlight that expensive rail systems are not the only solutions to public transport problems," says ADB Lead Transport Specialist Charles Melhuish. "There are other public transport possibilities, which these cities must consider. The Bus Rapid Transit system is one such solution."...

First 100 days for Governor Aphirak: BRTs, smart signs, and reviving boat services - translated and summarized from Thairath, December 8, 2004
Governor Aphirak said the first two BRT lines will be opened in October 2005 while smart taxi signs will be installed in June 2005 and smart traffic sings will be installed in July 2005. Smart parking lots will be opened in October 2005 while new BMA school buses will be implemented in January 2005.
BMA is also going revive boat services along canals in 2005:
1) Charoen Phat - Phetkasame 69
2) Extension of Saensab boat service from Wat Sri Bun Ruean to Minburi
3) Revival of Lad Phrao route -> Phra Khanong Bridge - Yingcharoen market (Saphan Mai)
4) Feeder boat service from Hua Lamphong to Thewet
5) Revival of Premprachakorn route as feeder boat service - Bangsue market - Donmuang
BMA is going to run a cleaning campaign to cut air and water pollution while cleansing the canals and collecting garbage.

Buses - political connections and patronage prevent safety measures being implemented - translated and summarized from Siamturakij, November 24-27, 2004
The connections between political-patronaged concession buses and BMTA is the major cause of accidents which kills at least one passenger and maims several passengers a month.
The concession buses owned by Jongchai, Watthana, Man, and Choocheep are the main offenders while Saha Khonson holds most routes of concession buses.
The frequent accidents of concession buses are due to the buses with poor maintenance and the bad drivers. Those who run the top echelons of BMTA always receive bribes and monthly kickbacks from politicians who own the ill-maintained concession buses.
There are many ways for BMTA to receive kickbacks
1) Savings account in the BMTA Credit Union (BMTA Saving Cooperatives) of 35 million baht from 11 owners of the concession buses with the annual interest rate of 7% [200,000 baht/month]. The well-paid interest all went into the doting bill of BMTA High Ranking Officer.
2) The list of Bribery paid to BMTA
2.1) 15,000 baht/bus for bus expense (total 3000-4000 buses)
2.2) 150 baht/bus/day for driving the buses
2.3) parts of diesel fuel subsidies for minibuses disappears. This money is supposed to keep the price at 10.80 baht--lower than the subsidized market rate is 14.59 baht.
This kind of corruption in BMTA concession buses is the main cause of the daily bus accidents and BMTA is unwilling to impose any regulations on those bus since they have been fatted with bribery.
During the tenor of Aram Lohweera (the deputy MOTC Minister who is handling BMTA bus), he granted private concession buses to 54 companies, but the actual number of companies is over 100. Most of them run by politicians who act like robber barons.
The following is
the list of those buses run by influential families.
1) Suphan Yanyon - Jongchai Thiangtham (politicans that rule Nonthaburi) - BMTA bus No 64 (both aircon and non-aircon)
2) Krungthep Rotruam - Jeh Kiaw (Ms. Sujinda Choedchai--the godmother of Choedchai Tour) - Main supporter of Thai Rak Thai in Khorat
3) Kittisunthorn - Choocheep Harnsawat [the don of Pathumthanee]--the political dynasty that runs Pathumthani as their own estate
4) Sannimit + Assawahem - This one is run by Man Phatthanothai and Mahthong (Watthana Assawahem)
5) SK Tour - Mr Anothai Uthensut--the former BMTA Director - BMTA Bus No. 39 (non aircon), No. 177 (aircon), No. 183, Aircon 528, Aircon 530, Aircon 531, No 170, No 171, No 172, etc.

Bus corruption - translated and summarized from Siamturakij, November 26, 2004
BMTA insiders told Siam Thurakij correspondents about the series of corruption inside BMTA which results in poor service as well the daily fatal accidents.
Now, both concession buses and BMTA buses are in very dilapidated conditions and can cause fatal accidents at any time. The BMTA Board does not care about a major overhaul since they are only caring about how to siphon money from BMTA. However, it may be harder to siphon money now since Minister Nikorn is planning to purchase 400 brand new buses with a total price tag of 2 billion baht--without any plan to upgrade existing buses which is a big source of corruption.
The procurement of 500 Euro 2 type busses in 2000 caused a 1.5 billion baht loss due to the following irregularities.
1) Doctored financial plans so they can be approved by the Ministry of Finance.
2) Contracts with the private sector that allows those with connections to exploit leasing and contracts on maintenance.
3) Collision on the bidding for the 500 bus procurement.
The conflicts of interests on the selling of both decommissioned buses and the routes to politicians is anther source of corruption. The liquidation of 500 decommissioned buses at a price of 410,000 baht each is too cheap. Even the decommissioned buses sold as scrap to junk dealers has a price tag of 470,000 baht each.
Even when there are investigations, the issues just simply disappeared without any conclusion.

The future of the bus - Bangkok Post, November 29, 2004
Special rapid routes that have worked successfully in many other cities are at the core of an integrated, overhauled mass transit system for Bangkok...

Feasibility studies for Bus Rapid Transit - BMA vs. OTP - translated and summarized from Dailynews, November 24, 2004
After hearing about the OTP plan on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) which are quite different from BMA's plan, BMA feel very stunned and wonder what is the real reason behind such a rival plan. Even though OTP has made a study on the project before BMA, BMA is the actual office that is going to implement the system. Therefore, OTP better cooperate with BMA to implement the plan instead of imposing a plan on BMA and force them to execute it.

BMA begins to design BRT buses - TNA, November 17, 2004
...Deputy Bangkok Governor Samart Ratchapholsit said on Tuesday that the two contractors were required to complete the Bt 6.9-million study on the two initial service routes--Nawamin-Kasetsart-Mor Chit terminal and Chong Nonsee-Bangkok Bridge within 90 days...

BMA refusing to purchase 100 second-handed aircon 2 buses from BMTA for BRT - translated and summarized from Matichon, October 11, 2004
Deputy Governor Samart has signed the approval for the TOR for BRT studies and then asks OTP to supply the consultant to handle the project which will be done in one week. After that, the consultant must complete the BRT studies in three months so as to run the service within one year.
BMTA has offered 100 aircon buses which are going to be decommissioned very soon at the price of 300,000 baht/bus. However, BMA declines the offer since the price tag of refurbishing the buses is about 3 million baht/bus. On the other hand, the Euro2 bus costs BMA 5 million baht/car which is slightly higher than BMTA's offer plus refurbishing cost. Furthermore, many passengers would not like to ride the refurbished buses since they love to ride the new ones and BMA has a clear policy to offer brand new buses.
After getting the data that OTP is going to run 9 BRT routes (with the Navamin - Mochit line overlapped), BMA governor said it is not a problem since the BMA project must follow OTP's suggestion. However, the first two lines must be conceived first to show the success of the BRT system so that the other eight will follow.
Commentary Wisarut: Insiders say BMA is aiming for the Phaholyothin route instead of the alternative along Ngamwongwan Road since they do not want to create more enemies with the Highway Dept. The Ngamwongwan Road route would impinge on Vibhavadd Rangsit Highway, Rama 2 Highway and Bangna - Bang Pakong Highway.

Preparing for the BRT - Existing bus routes must be altered to prevent cutthroat competition BMTA and BMA - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, September 30, 2004
Deputy BMA Governor Samart said he will issue the TOR for the consultant to handle the survey and design of 2 BRT routes (Navamin - Mochit, Surawongse - Bangkok Bridge) with a price tag of 7 million Baht.
For the Navamin route, it will be either turn left to go along Phaholyothin road (the original route) or go straight ahead along Ngamwongwan Road, turn left to go along Vibhavadee Rangsit Highway before ending up at Mochit Station (alternative route). On the other hand, Rama 3 BRT is still intact (Chongnonsee - Rama 3 - Bangkok Bridge).
The consultant must handle the plan for integrated ticket system between BRT and BTS Skytrain (and some extended to MRTA Subway) since BRT must function as a feeder for both mass transit systems. The BRT system will have the control system which forces the passengers to purchase tickets before riding.
The consultant must come up with the report by the end of 2004 so they can make an assessment on the details and impose the conditions for the contractor to come up with the system. The BTT must be opened by the end of 2005 or at worst early 2006. BMA must ask BMTA to either eliminate the redundant bus routes or shorten the routes such as BMTA No 77 (Mochit - Victory Monument - Narathiwat Ratchanakharin - Sathon - Central Rama 3), Circle line 178 (Nawamin - Lad Phrao - Ratchadaphisek - Kaset - Nuanchan - Nawamin) so as to push more passengers into BRT. If BMTA still insists on keeping the same old routes, both BMA and BMTA will suffer heavy loss due to a price war.

BRT news
- September 21, 2004
Reports: After setting up the radio show "BMA Governor Meeting with the People" from 7 to 8pm on Radio Jor Sor 100 (FM 100 MHz), Governor Apirak got a very hot response since there are at least 150 phone calls (call him at 1137) to him to start the BRT project as well as Skytrain extensions, the flood control projects, etc., etc.
After negotiation with OTP by Dr Samart Rajpolsit, it seems that OTP agrees to make a settlement on the BRT since OTP, BMTA, and Deputy Minister Nikorn received a public backlash after delaying the project. Smart taxi and smart traffic signs will follow soon. The discussions are here, here, here, and here.

BRT: what the Thai-language press is saying - September 17, 2004

[Ed.: The article below is another example of Thai news hidden from non-Thai readers because of the language barrier. While the Thai-language press has articles decrying central government stalling over BRT routes and Skytrain extensions, the English-language papers have been silent as usual. The government reticence to embrace the plan is surprising since earlier this year the government made a public relations push for BRT routes. Even the normally rabid Nation merely reports Apirak is going ahead despite "warnings from traffic agencies" and "suggestions" from PM Thaksin.
In contrast, day after day, the Thai-language press is interpreting the response from the government to BRT routes and Skytrain extensions as hypocritical politics.
The official Thai news service in English completely denies there is any disagreement:
...The Deputy Transport Minister, Nikorn Jamnong, has dismissed local media reports that the ministry had rejected the new Bangkok Governor, Apirak Kosayothin's proposed BRT scheme... (Bangkok governor’s BRT project given the go-ahead - TNA, September 15, 2004)]

Thai humor: Buses "so damned jam-packed that my baby is going to come out of my womb!" - translated and summarized from "Viva BMTA Bangkok Bus", originally at and published in Khao Hua Rau weekly magazine, courtesy of Khao Hua Rau, No. 778

OTP and BMTA slam the brakes on Governor Apirak's BRT - translated and summarized from Manager Daily and Matichon Daily, September 14, 2004

After the 2-hour meeting between Governor Apirak (along with BMA Board such as Deputy BMA Governor Samart and City Clerk Khunying Natthanon) and Deputy MOTC Minister Nikorn as well as BMTA, Land Traffic Dept., and OTP at the Government House on September 13, they came up with the following conclusions:
1) BRT is a good project.
2) However, the BMA needs to make deeper studies on this project. And after that, the final decision about who is going to handle this project--BMA or BMTA.
3) OTP and BMTA are slamming the brakes on Governor Apirak's BRT by claiming that Phaholyothin Road is not suitable for BRT. BRT would gobble 1-2 lanes of road which increases congestion along Phaholyothin Road from Kaset Intersection to Mochit. Furthermore, the construction of the tunnel from Kaset - Nawamin road to Ngam Wongwan road in the next two months is going to worsen traffic around that intersection.
4) Kaset - Nawamin - Mochit route has been shortened from 14 km (Nawamin - Kaset - Ratchayothin - Mochit) to 5 km (Nawamin - Satree Witthaya 2 - Lad Plakhao - Kaset) so as not to duplicate the BTS route while the Rama 3 route is intact since there is already a special bus way. Only the improvement of the route and facilities would make it a BRT route.
5) BRT could become lose-ridden like BMTA. One of the alternatives is to force BRT into a bus lane section when they turn left to Phaholyothin Road. This Phaholyothin line would overlap with the future BTS extension from Mochit to Saphan Mai. Therefore, BMA must come up with alternative routes or they have to shorten the route to 5 km.
BMTA also agrees with OTP since the existing BMTA buses are not suitable for BRT services since the gate in on the left instead of on the right.
Governor Apirak responded to the BMTA and OTP that BMA is going to revise the BRT plan so as to come up with the details of this project such as the project form, the routes, the flyover to allow passengers to go across the street to ride the bus, the buses, the fare rates, the budget and the agency that will handle the BRT. This detailed studies will be done in three months and then BMA will come back to discuss with BMTA and OTP later.
Nevertheless, BMA will speed up this project to be done in one year with the long route to feed Mochit Station even though BMA is compelled to come up with alternative routes since Premier Thaksin has asked for it. The same can be said about the Rama 3 route. BMA has to make a settlement with BMTA so as to finalize who is going to take charge of the BRT and who is going to carry the burden if it becomes loss ridden.
BMA and other agencies agree in principle that the Phaholyothin extension of the Skytrain (Mochit - Ratchayothin - Senanikhom - Kaset - Bang Bua - Bang Khen - Saphan Mai) has to become a reality as soon as possible. Further survey on the demands of those who live along Phaholyothin road as well as other roads along BRT is a big must since the half trillion baht investment in the mass transit system is involved.

BRT line details - translated and summarized from Siamturakij, September 15-18, 2004
[Some of these have been altered or canceled, but here are the original 10 BRT routes.]
1) Navamin - Satree Witthaya 2 - Lad Pla Khao - Lad Phrao Canal - Kaset - Sena Nikhom - Ratchayothin - Lad Phrao - Mochit Station -> 14 km, 700 million baht
2) Surawongse - Chogn Nonsee Station - Tawandaeng Brew House - Rama 3 Road - Sathupradit - Rama 9 Bridge - Thanon Tok - Bangkok Bridge -> 13 km, 800 million baht
The cost for the resat will be 50 million baht/km
3) Talingchan (Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road) - Sirinthorn Road - Borommarat Chonnanee Road - Southern Bus Terminal - Central Pinklao - Pinklao Road - Pata Pinklao - Pinklao Bridge - Sanam Luang - Ratchadamnoen Avenue - Phan Fah Bridge - Lan Luang Road - Yommaraj - Phetburi Road - Ratchathewee Station -> 14 km
4) Future Park Rangsit - Vibhavadee Rangsit - Donmuang Station - Laksi Station - Bang Khen Station - Wat Samian Naree - Ratchavibha - Lad Phrao - Suthisarn - Army Stadium - Surasak Montree School - Veterant Hospital - Dindaeng -> 27 km
5) Minburi - Mistine - Sukhaphiban 3 - Sapohan Soong - Triam Udom Nomklaop - Summakorn - Wat Sriboonruan - Lum Salee - Sri Nakharin - Uniliver - Hua Mark Station - Seacon - Seri Center - Wat Sri Iam - Sikharin - Sri Thepha - Samut Prakarn -> 28.2 km
6) Bang Bon (Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road) - Central Rama 2 - Rama 2 Highway - Dao Khanong -Samreh - Taksin Road - Wongwian Yai -> 14.6 km
7) Nakhon In Road (Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road) - Wat Bang Oy Chang - Rama 5 Bridge - Bypass Road - Tiwanon - Rewadee - Kae Rai - Bang Lumphoo Ngam Wongwan - Phongphet - Ngam Wongwan - Bang Khen Station - Kaset -> 20.1 km
8) Highway 3100 Prapa canal - Muang Ek - Ban Mahi canal - Nobel Neocity - Sri Saman - St. Francis Xavier School [Muangthogn Thanee] - Chang Watthana [Tesco Lotus] - MWA - Soi Samakki - Dhurakij Bundit U. - Phongphet - Phrachuen - Prachanivet 1 - Prachanukoon - Phrachachuen market [Tesco Prachachuen] - Premprachakorn canal - Wat Saphansoong - Techawanit Road - Rama 5 Orad - Vijiravut College - Chitladd Palace - Mable temple - Royal Tuft Club - Phitsanulok Road - Yommaraj -> 27 km
9) Pakkret Pier - AMD - Maungthogn Thanee - Tesco Chang Watthana - Big C - Chang Watthana - ICT - Laksi Station - Rajabhat Phranakorn - Bangkhen - Ram Indra - Nuan Chan - Km 8 - Khannayao - Nawamin -Inthararak - NHA - Bang Kapi -> 28.9 km
10) Phra Phimon canal (Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road) - Bang Yai - Rattnathibet road - Bang Rak Canal - Ratchaphurek Road [Rattnathibet - Phetkasem Road] - Tilingchan - Bang Wah - The Mall Tha Phra - Taksin Intersection - Wongwian Yai -> 24 km
The ticket rate will be 5 baht plus number of kilometers to travel and one ticket to be used on all BRT lines.
The most important stumbling block is BMTA and OTP since both agencies have strong hostility [if not outright hatred] toward BMA. BMTA refuse to merge with BMA at all and they have come up with their own plan while OTP still has internal rivalries which causes Dr Samart to resign to protest DR Khamroblux and become Deputy BMA Governor and carry the BRT project with him. It is up to Governor Apirak to make an negotiation with both BMTA and OTP.
Commentary by Wisarut: Even though line 8 will help to turn the blindspot are into a golden area, the poor connection with Impact Muangthong Thanee could diminish much of the value.
After line 9 becomes a reality, bus no 150 will have to cease to exist.
Minister Nikorn and BMTA Labor Union seems to be lazy to come up with the specialized bus which has gates on both sides as proposed by Governor Apirak. This implies that BMTA and Minister Nikorn seem not to learn from the hard lesson from the unsuccessful BRT in 1996.
They should add Line 11 (Bangkapi - Chokchai 4 - Ratchadaphisek - Chandrakasem - Ratchayothin - Ratchavibha - Northern Bus terminal - Mochit)

Very short honeymoon - It is BMA vs. the central government again - September 15, 2004
[Ed.: We have quite a few translated stories from the Thai-language press in the next few days, but we will start with this editorial overview.]
Comments: It seems to me that the conflict between BMA and Central Government is going to resurface again. This time, the conflicts will definitely reach the crisis level due to the upcoming elections in January 2005. Furthermore, the conflicts of interests between BMTA and BMA has been revealed. Even OTP (Office of Transport and Traffic Police and Planning) has shown their hidden true nature.
After the initial rejection of the Kaset route of BRT, Governor Apirak said he would never shorten the route. He will go for the alternatives to ensure that even though the Skytrain extension has not reached Kaset yet, BRT will still function as a feeder line for BTS.
Deputy MOTC Minister Nikorn tried to calm the public fury toward him, but his explanation is so confusing that I could not translate his words into proper English.
Even though many people still have strong skepticism about the BRT Project, most people have booed BMTA and Deputy Minister Nikorn who care about their own vested interests (and the voting block) from the BMA union instead of the comfort of the passengers and have replaced the comfortable monthly and weekly pass with the cumbersome coupon system.
Furthermore, they have lost trust in OTP that initially touted BRT as the alternative to the Skytrain, but now reject the BRT plan from BMA. Initially, they also asked BTS not to extend routes before nationalization and then they suddenly changed their minds by asking BMA to extend the route to Kaset despite of the fact that MOTC has has declared an alternate plan for mass transit expansion with a price tag of half a trillion baht.
This kind of flip-flop by OTP only makes them lose any leftover creditability in the public mind. OTP is just a puppet and mouthpiece for Premier Thaksin and Minister Suriya.

Thai viewpoints on this BRT issue after the meeting with BMTA can be shown here, here and here.

For help with Thai acronyms, check the glossary

Thaksin approves of 2 BRT lines while complaining to Governor Apirak that 28 billion baht to counter traffic is too much - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, September 9, 2004
Premier Thaksin said the "BMA deserves at least 2 BRT lines."
1) Kaset - Nawamin line -> (Nawamin - Stree Witthaya 2 - Lad Plakhao - Kaset - Senanikhom - Ratchayothin Central Lad Phrao - Mochit)
2) Rama 3 Line -> (Krungthep Bridge (Thanon Tok) - Sathupradit - Thanon Chan - Thung Mahamek Chong Sonsee - Surawongse)
This was after receiving the proposal for 10 routes of BRT with a total distance of 202 km and a request from governor Apirak for 70% budget support from the central government (the rest paid by BMA). However, Premier Thaksin said BMA should wait for 2 months to get the cabinet resolution for both BRT routes.
Furthermore BMA needs to transform 900 municipal police (Thesakit) into a temporary Traffic Police--up from 600 Thetsakit.
However, Premier Thaksin complained that 28.8 billion baht for Skytrain extensions (Samrong and Thaksin and Saphan Mai with total budget of 15.9 billion baht) and other traffic solutions (Smart Taxi Stops, Samart Bus) is too much. Governor Apirak said he will try to cut down and control the costs to prevent cost overruns.
Furthermore, the connections between Sanesaeb Boat service, Chaophraya Express Boat, Skytrain and Subway must become a reality.
Premier Thaksin said BMA should have torn down some unused advertising billboards and also construct a new National Stadium in Thonburi while transforming old National Stadium into a giant public park.
Commentary by Wisarut: National Stadium used to be a Siamese version of Buckingham Palace for the first crown prince. However, it became a part of Chulalongkorn Campus until 1936. After that, the new regime tore down the palace to make the National Stadium (the first section opened in 1937, 2nd section opened in 1940, and series of modernization and renovation during Seap Games, Asian Games, and Seagames until 1998). Turning National Stadium into public park is not a bad idea, but the architect (especially one from Chulalongkorn University) should come up with an idea for the new park which takes into account its long history.

Thaksin delays Skytrain extensions, but approves two BRT routes - translated and summarized from Thairath, September 10, 2004
[As Wisarut and other readers point out, the Skytrain extensions will be announced shortly before the elections so that the government can take credit for them--after they have obstructed the extensions for almost three years.]
After the meeting between Governor Apirak and Premier Thaksin at Government House on September 9, Premier Thaksin approved two BRT Lines:
1) Nawamin - Satree Witthaya 2 - Lad Plakhao - Kaset - Senanikhom - Ratchayothin - Lad Phrao - Mochit Station, 14 km, 700 million baht
2) Thanon Tok - Krung Thep Bridge - Rama 3 - Thung Mahamek - Thanon Chan - Chong Nonsee Station - Surawongse, 13 km, 800 million baht
If both BRT lines cost more than the 700 million baht budget, the central government will cover the rest but BMA needs to trim down the BRT budget first.
However, Premier Thaksin is asking to delay the BTS Skytrain for another two months. Furthermore, Premier Thaksin is asking Governor Apirak to improve pathways, surroundings around parks and sport fields, modernize boat services to connect with Skytrain and Subway and create new parks along Chao Phraya River.
Furthermore, Deputy PM Suwat is asking Governor Apirak to construct the via duct with moving walkways from MBK to connect with Chitlom via duct at Ratprasong intersection.
Initially Governor Apirak has proposed the budget for four traffic projects as follows:
1) BRT Projects (1st and 2nd line) 1 billion baht
2) Skytrain extensions
2.1) Taksin Extension (Phase 1-2) 2.250 billion baht
2.2) Samrong extension (Phase 1) 8.4 billion baht
3) Phaholyothin extensions 19.5 billion baht
4) Lum Salee Solution 0.659 million baht
Premier Thaksin is asking Governor Apirak to trim the budget through cooperation between the PM Office and BMTA while asking BMA to delay the Skytrain extensions until BTS has be able to make debt restructuring. Furthermore Premier Thaksin said the government plan for this was conceived long ago but only materialized on September 7.

Traffic Police:"BRT may not work as thought"--stuck at u-turns and unsuitable roads - translated and summarized from Thairath, September 9, 2004 and Dailynews, September 9, 2004
The Commander of Metropolitan Traffic Police said the BRT project is a good project. However, BRT will work only for roads with at least 6-lanes of traffic since BRT is going to gobble at least 1-2 traffic lanes and BMTA buses will use another lane as well.
Furthermore, BMA has to construct the new U-turns to replace the old ones--especially on roads with a small number of lanes. The intersections will be a problem since they cannot block lanes for the buses all the time.
Furthermore, pedestrians are reluctant to walk on flyovers to go across the street to BRT stations. Jaywalking across the street is quite dangerous as well. This is one of many elements which caused the failure of the bus scheme at the middle of the road at Lad Phrao and Narathiwat Ratchanakharin.
BRT is much more suitable for roads with few intersections and stops every 500 meters.

Comments and criticism about BRT projects can be seen at the following webboards:

Apirak proposing additional BRT routes and alternative for the first route after inspection of 10 Bangkok gridlocked intersections - translated and summarized from
Matichon, September 8, 2004
Dailynews, September 8, 2004
Dailynews, September 7, 2004
Thairath, September 7, 2004
Thairath, September 9, 2004

Governor Apirak has made an inspection of 10 critically gridlocked intersections before coming up with 10 BRT routes. During the morning inspection around Bang Kapi area, Governor Apirak found that there are about 20,460 cars entering into five stores in Bangkapi area (The Mall Bang Kapi, Lotus, Makro, Tawanna, Nomjit) thus clogging three intersections (Bangkapi Tee Intersection, Bangkapi Cross Intersection, Suan Son intersection).
For the case of Lumsalee Intersection (AKA Lum Sahat coined by local people), there are at least 8000 cars around this section during the morning rush hour alone. BMA needs the 2.5-km flyover from Lum Salee to Surau Ban Mah and then the Serithai road from Surau Ban Mah to Bangchan Industrial Estate must be expanded from 6 lanes into 8 lanes.
After the inspection, Governor Apirak said "a single alternative for the first BRT line is not enough for public demand, we must make three alternatives!"
1. Nawamin - Satree Witthataya - Lad Pla Khao - Kaset - Senanikhom - Ratchayothin - Central Lad Phrao - Mochit Station via Kaset - Nawamin Road (the original route)
2. Nawamin - Satree Witthataya - Lad Pla Khao - Kaset - Kasetsart U. - Wat Samian Naree - Ratchawipha - Shinnawatra 3 - Horwang School - Mochit Station via Kaset - Nawamin Road, Ngam Wongwan Road, and Vibhavadd Rangsit Highway (2nd alternative to cover for those who live on Campus and those who live and work along Vibhavadee Rangsit Highway)
3. Nawamin - Satree Witthataya - Lad Pla Khao - Kaset - Senanikhom - Ratchayothin - Ratchawipha - Kamphaengphet 2 - Mochit 2 - Or Tor Kor - Morchit Station (3rd alternative for those railway people who live around Kamphangphet 2 area, and for those who use the Northern Bus terminal)
The route for the first line will be finalized next year. The bus will be a new one though and the construction cost will be 50 million baht/km (total 700 million baht for 14-km of the 1st route).
Furthermore, Kaset Intersection must have a new 4-lane tunnel from Military Engineer Dept to Kaset Market (the BRT which goes along Ngam Wongwan Road will definitely use that tunnel).
Furthermore, the new BRT route will replace the tram along the canal proposed by Dr Bhichit. The route will go from Surawognse Road (at AIA Building) to Bangkok Bridge (Thanon Tok Intersection) via Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Road and Rama 3 Ring road. The total distance for this route will be 12 km.
This can be considered as the second BRT route to feed Chong Nonsee station and improve the access for those who work in Surawongse area and those who live around Thung Mahamek - Thanon Chan - Sathupradit - Thanon Tok area. Furthermore, Governor Apirak is asking Chaophraya Express Boat to revive Thanon Tok Pier and expand their service to pick up the BRT passengers.

The other BRT routes will be as follows. Only after getting the budget approval from the central government:
1. Minburi - Bangchan - Ban Mah - NIDA - Bangkapi - Chokchai 4 - Lad Phrao - Mochit via Lad Phrao - Serithai Road -> a substitute to Lad Phrao Elevated Way
2. Lum Salee - Hua Mark Station - SEACON Square - Seri Center - Wat Sri Iam via Sri Nakharin Road
3. Suwinthawongse - Ram Indra - Laksi via Ram Indra - Chaeng Watthana Road
4. Mochit - Laksi - Donmuang via Phaholyothin Road and Vibhavadee Rangsit Highway
5. Talingchan - Ratchathewee Station
6. Suwinthawongse - Saphan Soong - Lumsalee via Ramkhamhaeng Road (Sukhaphiban 3) -> a substitute for MRTA Orange Line expansion

Governor Apirak also said he would remove the redundant BRT routes once BTSC Skytrain has been expanded to the following routes:
1. Saphan Taksin - Taksin Intersection - The Mall Tha Phra - Phetkasem via Taksin - Phetkasem Road and Krung Thonburi road (AKA New Sathon Road)
2. Onnut - Samrong - Samut Prakarn via Sukhumvit Road
3. Mochit - Ratchayothin - Donmaung via Phaholyothin Road

The list of 10 Bangkok critical gridlocked intersections which may need a BRT solution are
1. Lum Salee (Eastern Bangkok - this also cover into Bangkapi Intersection nearby)
2. Arun Amarin (Central Thonburi) -> 116,333 cars a day
3. Mahaisawan (Southern Thonburi)
4. Lad Phrao (Gate to Bangkok downtown) -> 248,823 cars a day
5. Bang Khun Non (Northern Thonburi)
6. Km 8 Ram Indra (Northeastern Bangkok - The section in between Bangkapi, Laksi and Minburi)
7. Ratchayothin (SCB Park and Major Ratchayothin) -> 155,796 cars a day
8. Rama 9 (Eastern Bangkok between Ram Khamnhaeng and Klong Tan)
9. Surasak-Sathon (CBD)
10. Bang Na (Southern Bangkok)

Office of Traffic Management (where Dr Samart -> now the deputy BMA Governor-> used to work) also proposes the following BRT route to be handled by BMA.
1. Talingchan - Ratchathewee Station - Pratoonam - Phatthanakarn
2. Rangsit - Donmuang - Laksi - Kaset - Din Daeng
3. Minburi - Lum Salee - Sri Nakharin - Samut Prakarn
4. Minburi - Lum Salee - Hua Mark - MRTA - Rama 9
5. Rama 2 (Bang Bon) - Wongwian Yai via Taksin road and Rama 2 Highway
6. Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road - Rama 5
7. Muangthong Thani - Chaeng Wattana - Phongphet - Prachachuen - Prachaniwet - Bangsue - Phyathai
8. Nawamin - Kaset - Mochit
Not surprising, Dr Samart just transferred the OTM plan to be handled by BMA instead of the debt ridden BMTA even though they may have to shorten some routes to prevent redundancy. They hope that this BRT route will become successful after learning from the past failures of BRT along Lad Phrao Road and Narathiwat Road.

BRT route! - Post Today, August 31, 2004
Wisarut pointed out this map of the first proposed BRT route coming from Bangkok Governor-elect Apirak and his advisor, the highly-respected Dr. Samart. Promises of BRT routes were a cornerstone of Apirak's campaign. The route appears to start (in the upper right-hand corner) at Ram Intra Expressway, then proceeds along Kaset-Nawamin Road (this is the new road that extends east from Nganwongwan Road), goes down Phahonyothin Road before terminating at the Morchit Skytrain Station.

Earlier bus news

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