Chiang Mai Mass Transit News 2000-2004

Current Chiang Mai Mass Transit news is here

Update on Chiang Mai LRT - June 4, 2004
Wisarut reports: The Chiang Mai LRT got very positive responses. Only those who run the red minibus in Chiangmai oppose the project since it hurts their interests. If they can deal with the power line issue for LRT, more positive responses will come. Premier Thaksin better ask Minister Suriya and Sawat Horrungtueng as well as Japanese or German investors to set up local assembly for both LRT and MRT rolling stock to cut down costs. Look at Thai netter's response on Chiangmai LRT here and here.

Premier Thaksin asks Chiang Mai Mayor to revive Chiang Mai LRT projects - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon Daily, May 26, 2004
Chiang Mai Mayor (Boonloed Booranapakorn) received a direct order from Premier Thaksin that Chiang Mai must come up with an LRT with five routes to support Chiang Mai Aviation-Transportation Hub in 2006:
1) City Circle around Chiang Mai City Moat -> 27 km -> 3 billion baht
2) Chiang Mai Airport -Chiang Mai University - Chiang Mai Zoo
3) New Chiang Mai government center
4) Chiang Mai Railway Station-Chiang Mai Bus terminal
5) Chiang Mai Night Zoo and the route along irrigation canals
The total distance of this - Chiang Mai LRT systems will be 40 km. The City Circle is very cheap (3 billion baht) and the whole system is about 5 billion--a bargain price.
This new route alignment is a combination of the studies by Louis Berger Co. Ltd 10 years ago (the companies hired by ETA) and Chiang Mai University is going to come up with new studies. The results will be submitted to the Ministry of Energy and MOTC before getting cabinet approval.
Commentary by Wisarut: Since this is a project proposed by Premier Thaksin, no one will dare go against the plans. Electric commuter trains along with the double tracks from Chiang Mai to Denchai would be great. However, the initial phase would have to end at Lamphun since the route from Lamphun to Denchai needs new composite tressels and parallel tunnels.

Chiang Mai mass transit projects - May 17, 2004
From Chiang Mai rushes to produce transportation blueprint - MCOT, May 14, 2004: ...The OTTPP has recently hired Chiang Mai University’s Information Technology Service Institute to draw up 5-year, 10-year and 15-year plans for the city’s transportation programme.
...The plans will also focus on the transportation needs of the city when it hosts a global crop festival in 2006, which is expected to attract 3 million visitors over a space of six months.
The plans are expected to include the construction of a light rail system linking government offices and tambon Mae Hia, the location of the Night Safari to the city centre...

More on the Chiangmai subway - September 26, 2003
Wisarut Bholsithi reports: Chiangmai Municipal is taking responsibility to deal with the 40 sq-km urban area of Chiangmai District. The urban area of Chiangmai covers 14 communes (Tambon) such as:

1) Chang Moy
2) Hai Yah [the main cemetery]
3) Sri Phoom [Sri Phoom Corner]
4) Wat Ket [near Dara Witthaya High School]
5) Chang Klan
6) Phra Singh [Wat Phra Singh]
7) Suthep [partially - up to Chaingmai University -> beyond Chaingmai University is a
rural area]

8) Pa Daed [partially]
9) Fah Ham
10) Nong Pa Krang [partial]
11) Tha Sala [partial]
12) Pa Tan
13) Nong Hoy [partial]
14) Chang Phueak [partial]
Here are the new proposed LRT routes from Bangkok Biznews, September 25, 2003
It consists of two lines with terminals for both lines at Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center.
1) Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center - Hang Dong [Chiangmai Airport] -> Shortened
version of Line 2 - with a track shared with Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center - On Luay Line from Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center to Wat Upakhut [Interchange Station]
2) Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center - On Luay (Tambon Onluay - Mae On Subdistrict - Tambon On Luay is separated from San Kamphaeng District) -> the same route as the old line 1
Too bad Bangkok Biznews did not publish a map of the new proposed LRT routes for a comparison, so we have to make a guess that it is not so good at all because it does not include a route to Chiangmai University. The route to Chiangmai Railway Station and to Chiangmai International Airport are preserved.
I found a map of Chiangmai City at the Chiangmai City website for a comparison--too bad it's pretty big--too big for A4 Paper. Even Chiangmai map from Yuppharat School is quite big and has less details. Here's earlier info on the Chiang Mai Subway including a map of the original route proposal.

Mass transit system for Chiangmai needed - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Naewna Daily, September 24, 2003
Traffic jams in Chiangmai (the home province of Premier Thaksin) are almost at par with Bangkok traffic jams. So the Minister of Energy, Dr. Phrommin Loedsuridej, has called a meeting to deal with this matter.
Chiangmai International Airport handles air traffic from China, Bangladesh and even Singapore adding more traffic to the city. City planning in urban areas of Chiangmai municipal must be implemented and the Chaingmai LRT must be revived to become a reality since the municipal area of Chaingmai no longer has space for new roads to meet demand. The CEO governor will handle this job with cooperation from all related parties and get an optimal investment plan that everybody can agree on.
Premier Thaksin may ask for foreign investors without borrowing... so far, more than 50% of Chiangmai traffic comes from bicycles and motorcycles and only about 10% is the small red buses. Even though ETA proposed the Chaingmai LRT, it has not materialized. Chaingmai has received a 15 million baht budget from the government and another 50 million baht from the German government to deal with the LRT.
Chaingmai Mayor said that traffic discipline has to be enforced to cut accidents and traffic jams. Furthermore, most of those who work in Chiangmai come from the neighboring districts such as San Sai, San Kamphaeng, Saraphee, Mae Rim, and Hang Dong.
Furthermore, Chiangmai has very poor mass transit system--buses in Chiangmai look more like a red minibuses, there are pickup trucks modified to pick more passengers, and Daihatsu minibuses. New systems and social structures must be constructed.
Commentary by Wisarut: Since ETA has transferred most of the mass transit system affairs to MRTA, MRTA should handle this project in Chiangmai by using either the old plan or coming up with the new routes to reflect the new reality.
The new LRT to the main terminal of Chaingmai International Airport, Chiangmai Railway Station and New Chiangmai Bus Terminal will be very nice, but the line to Chaingmai University and Rajabhat Institute of Chiangmai would be fine. Rajabhat Institute of Chiangmai is within the city wall and thus may not be a good target route. After all, Chaingmai is more than 700 years old with lots of old temples within the city walls. Digging tunnels across the city wall area requires delicate handling and expertise to deal with the foundations.

Transit system not likely soon - Lack of funds mean traffic woes to go on - by Supoj Wancharoen, excerpted from the Bangkok Post, November 5, 2000
    Chiang Mai desperately needs a mass transit system if it is to overcome its worsening traffic problems, but an engineering discussion group yesterday concluded it could be many years coming. A shortage of funds means any such project is unlikely to get off the  ground in the next 10 years, said participants at a seminar organised by the faculty of engineering of Chiang Mai University.
     Samart Ratpolsit, a engineering consultant who drew up a mass transit master plan for Chiang Mai, said it was essential to avoid some of the mistakes made in Bangkok.
     "I think we will have to wait at least 10 years, judging from the economic situation," he said.
     "It is also important to attract as many people as possible to use the system, especially with suitable fares."Fares on the MRTA subway have been set at 14-36 baht, which was considered too high because the state invested in most of the project.
     It is not right for the government to let a private firm operate the system in the hope of getting some return, Mr Samart said, because the project itself was of great economic value.
     Chukit Phothayanuwat, the subway manager of the MRTA, said Chiang Mai must learn from Bangkok's experience, especially in areas of investment, sources of loans and repayment periods.
     The ETA has planned a public hearing on the project early next year before submitting the results to the Interior Ministry, the National Environment Board and the cabinet for approval.

Chiang Mai under threat, say civic groups - Claim city's heritage at risk from scheme - Bangkok Post, September 17, 2000
[Note: This article does not concern the subway, but an elevated road project near the Chiang Mai airport. It demonstrates that many are concerned that these megaprojects will harm Chiang Mai's historical heritage.]

Transport and Communications Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has promised to look into complaints by several Chiang Mai civic groups calling for the suspension of an elevated road project near the city's airport. The groups say similar construction projects should be put off and replaced with underpasses.

Mr Suthep said he would talk to the Highways Department about whether the projects should be put on hold. In a letter to the minister, the groups, led by Sirichai Narumitrekhakarn, of the Club for Chiang Mai, said the intended schemes would have serious impacts on the city's environment, culture and arts. They said Chiang Mai's 700 year-old heritage was threatened by the elevated road that would not solve traffic problem as intended.

The elevated road, which is under construction near the province's international airport, would take traffic flowing from the outskirts of the city, thus worsening congestion, said the group, adding that elevated road projects would worsen air quality in a city where pollution was already rife. They quoted a 1994 study showing that 40,000 people in a population of 330,000 suffered from respiratory diseases.

The group attacked the projects for lacking transparency, saying they were drawn up and implemented in haste. Local people were not involved. Originally, the projects were drawn up by the Highways Department as underpasses. Because of budgetary constraints, they were redrawn to become elevated.

If shortage of funding was the main reason for having the design changed, Mr Sirichai said, the projects should be put off until adequate funding was available. Senator Khunying Chodchoi Sophonpanich, an environmentalist, said most tourists preferred to see Chiang Mai being preserved as an historical city with as little physical change as possible.

Meanwhile, Highways director-general Srisook Chantrangsu insisted that he could not revoke the project because construction by Chiang Mai Construction Co was 30% complete. He said the bidding contest was done with transparency and won consent of the Budget Bureau and the House.

It's Alive! - ETA Dusting off the Chiang Mai Light Rail Project - April 7, 2000
      The Expressway Authority of Thailand has revived the "Chiang Mai Light Rail Project" project for the first line (12.3 km). Preecha Srithongsuk, ETA Director, said Chiang Mai get lots of traffic jam due to rapid development, so the Ministry of Interior (which oversees the ETA) asked ETA to deal with this problem. ETA has studied the Chiang Mai light rail plan since 1996 and proposed four suitable routes with total distance of 27.4 km.
          Line 1: Chiang Mai Government Center-Upakhut-Buak Krok (12.3 km)
          Line 2: Hangdong Cross Intersection-Sansai Tee intersection (8.6 km)
          Line 3: Chiang Mai University-Jaeng Sriphoom (4.5 km)
          Line 4:  Saeng Tawan Cross Intersection-Chiangmai Land (2 km)
          (See below of possible route lists.)
      ETA will construct Line 1 first which will take 1-2 years to finish since this line has been approved by ETA Board and it is ready to start land expropriation, construction, and civil engineering. The first line will be above ground for about 2 km and the other 10 km underground. However, this line will need government subsidies about 9,075 million baht. For rolling stock, service and maintenance, ETA will invite the private sector to deal with and shoulder a burden of 5,317 million baht. Therefore, the total cost will be 14,392 million baht.
      This project is now waiting for the results from National Environment Committee, after revising the plan to reduce environmental impact - with the consultants from engineering consultant firms such as Southeast Asia Technology Co. Ltd., Sepsilon Co. Ltd., and Louis Berger International Inc. ETA has submitted the plan to Environmental Policies and Plans Bureau and asked Southeast Asia Technology Co. Ltd. to submit the Environmental Impact study which has been revised according to the advice from Social and Cultural Impacts Committee and expert committee. ETA will submit this report to Environmental Policies and Plans Bureau for the consideration from National Environmental Committee.
        ETA is ready to get more field data before calling a public hearing after The National Environmental Committee approves the plan. ETA Director and ETA Board will go to Chinag Mai around April 27-28 for field studies. After calling a public hearing, ETA will submit the plan to the cabinet for the final approval. ETA expects that the construction will begin next year if the National Environmental Committee approves this project. (Thansettakij Business News, April 6-8, 2000)

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