Chiang Mai Mass Transit News 2004-2006

Chiang Mai Subway Map

Although no colors have been assigned to the Chiang Mai Subway routes, they are colored in this map to make the routes clearer.
Line 1- Red    Line 2 - Blue    Line 3 - Green    Line 4 - Grey
The old city moat is the black square.

Latest News

Traffic relief for Chiang Mai - The Nation, May 7, 2006
...Narong said the city would likely opt for a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, using 18-metre-long public buses running inside dedicated traffic lanes.
...At this stage, it is still unclear which local authority will be in charge of operating the planned mass transit.
The Provincial Administrative Organisation has the jurisdiction, but it may lack experience in running a system of this scale so an alternative is to set up a special organisation to oversee the system.
The CTS scheme was approved in principle by the Cabinet several years ago, but the funding details have never been finalised...
Google Earth placemark for Chiang Mai

Tunnel route study approved by cabinet - Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai shortcut
- Bangkok Post, February 8, 2006
[PM Thaksin is bolstering his political home base with many projects.]
...The Ministry of Transport would be in charge of studying the viability and construction costs of the project, which would help shorten the route between Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son by 60km, said government spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee...
The existing Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son route was well-known for being tough on drivers as it has almost 2,000 curves, but this was part of the innate charm of these northern provinces, he said.
The cabinet yesterday also approved around a five-billion-baht budget for development projects in Chiang Mai and all seven upper northern provinces.
The approved projects include a 300 million baht to tackle floods in Chiang Mai, a plan to build another knowledge park in Chiang Mai, similar to Thailand Knowledge Park (TK Park) in Bangkok, a plan to introduce the sufficiency economy concept to Karen communities and the preservation plan around Chiang Mai's old city duct.
For the upper northern provinces, the cabinet approved around 27.6 million baht for a plan to develop the Wiang Lor archeological site in Phayao and 13 projects under the strategy to turn the region into a software and medical hub as well as to become a gateway for investment and transportation, connecting the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries and members of the Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Cooperation, or Bimstec.
The projects include a new road running parallel to the railway between Chiang Mai and Lamphun, and improvement of Mae Hong Son airport...

CHIANG MAI: Elevated train network plan over 5 years - Bangkok Post, February 6, 2006
Work is underway on a mass transit master plan that should lead to a network of above-ground electric rail lines here in five years...

Chiang Rak and turnkey projects - December 6, 2005
Premier Thaksin said that he objects the proposal of OTP and Pheng who ask to terminate intercity trains at Chiang Rak due to complaints from riders. Furthermore, Premier Thaksin said he perfers turnkey projects with contractors with deep pockets--even though most people know that turnkey projects are corruption prone.
The defunct Hopewell would be a good reminder of the perils of turnkey projects, but Premier Thaksin has few choices due to budget constraints along with sliding popularity. More can be seen here.

Minister Pheng handling the proposed Chiang Mai LRT - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, September 15-17, 2005
Minister Pheng is going to handle Chiang Mai traffic jams by the order from the PM by solving three problems:
1) Inadequate mass transit systems
2) Traffic jam
3) Pollution
The short term solution is to revamp the minibus routes with total distance of 555 km with 150 buses and 1500 mini buses and a price tag of 700 million baht.
Phase 2 would require 270 more buses and 500 more minibuses to cover another 589 km route with a price tag of 1.2 billion baht. This is to be started in 2010.
Phase 3 would require a 414 km expansion of bus routes without extra investment started in 2020.
The middle term and longer term resolution is to realize Chiang Mai LRT to be handled by OTP with two phases to implement.
1) 35 km LRT lines within the municipal area with 3 routes and a price tag of 6 billion baht
1.1) Chiang Mai Government Center - Buak Krok (11.47km)
1.2) Land Transportation Office - San Sai (13.2 km)
1.3) Chiang Mai Zoo - Chiang Mai Land (14.4 km)
2) The expansion of Chiang Mai LRT by 35 km along with 34-km BRT routes with a price tag of 6 billion baht.
However, MOTC would ask OTP to define the elevated section, at grade section and underground sections, especially the section within/around the City Moat along with the project synchronization. Furthermore, these projects must not hurt the old city of more than 700 years old like Chiang Mai and they have to listen to the local people to minimize detrimental impacts.

Three lines of Chiang Mai LRT
- translated and summarized from Siam Thurakij, June 15-17, 2005
OTP has come up with the following mass transit plan for Chiang Mai to start in 2006 and be complete by 2025.
1) Electrifying and double tracking of Chaing Mai-Lamphun section for local trains
2) Finishing the Denchai-Chaing Rai Railway
3) Intercity motorway from Chaing Mai to Mae Hong Son and Lampang to Nan via Phrae and Phayao to cut down traveling time from 5-6 hours to 2-3 hours
4) Reorganization of Chiang Mai Red Minibus along with the introduction of Chaing Mai aircon buses
5) Chiang Mai LRT - three routes with a total distance of 33 km and target number of passengers of 300,000 a day for the whole system
5.1) Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center - Sankamphaeng via City Moat, Chaing Mai Bus terminal and Chiang Mai Railway Station [10 km]
5.2) Chiang Mai University - Chiang Mai Land via City Moat [11 km]
5.3) San Sai - Chiang Mai International Airport - Hang Dong [12 km]
6) The completion of the missing link in the Chiang Mai Ring Superhighway (about 4 km) which may a TBM drilling machine to complete.
7) The 2nd Chiang Mai International Airport

Chiang Mai transit notes
- translated and summarized from Manager Daily, May 26, 2005
Chiang Mai LRT study is not finished yet--it will wait until OTP receives a budget in 2006.
Even though the Chiang Mai Municipality is desperate for better buses as well as a Chiang Mai LRT to replace the Mafia-plagued red minibus, the loss ridden BMTA would not be a good role model for Chiang Mai buses. Even though there are 34 concession red minibuses in Chiang Mai, only 8 lines follow specified routes. The rest merely go where they need to go. The concession line system uses a map, not people, as the main criteria for the lines.
Chiang Mai Municipality may have to allocate 100 million baht from 300-400 million baht vehicle taxes to finance Chiang Mai bus and even more for a Chiang Mai LRT.

MOTC investing 170 billion baht in 15 years for northern transport development - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, May 13, 2005
MOTC has planned to invest 170 billion baht in 15 years to develop the northern transportation system to turn the northern region into a gateway - by realizing Denchai-Chiang Rai railway, new highways, and new Chiang Saen Port. MOTC also invites the local government to join with these MOTC northern transportation development schemes to cut redundancy.
After the seminar with OTP in Chiang Rai, OTP said MOTC is going to invest 170 billion baht over 15 years to turn the northern region into the full fledged northern gateway connecting with China, Burma or even the Indian subcontinent. In 2006, the first 1-2 billion baht would start to support this massive project.
The list of projects are:
1) Denchai - Chiang Rai (250 km) with a price tag of 40-50 billion baht
2) Chiangmai International Airport Expansion with a price tag to 3 billion baht
3) Chiang Saen 2 Port - 1 billion baht - to cope with busy cargo between China and Thailand. Chiang Saen 2 port will be on 400 rai of reformed land ready for service in 2008 with space for an additional 20 cargo boats for agricultural products and PTT oil tankers. China and other countries along the Mekhong have signed an agreement to guarantee that the Mekhong would have water at least 2 meters deep which allows all season river transportation.
4) Turning the 4-lane highways into 8-lane highways for the 17 northern provinces.
MOTC would allow local people and governments to participate this plan to minimize redundancy which has wasted billions of baht.

Chiang Mai bus service delayed - The Nation, May 12, 2005
...The launch of 26 eco-friendly municipal buses designed to alleviate traffic congestion along two major routes servicing several schools has been delayed indefinitely because of delays in the approval of concessions.
...Representatives of the Lanna Transport Cooperative, comprised of owners and drivers of the songteaw passenger pickup buses that have maintained a monopoly on Chiang Mai’s mass transportation system, assert the planned bus routes would overlap with their regular transport routes...

Songtaews imperil bus plan - The Nation, March 22, 2005
...The dispute has raised a commotion in Chiang Mai. Local newspapers, radio stations, and web boards have been inundated with comments from residents critical of the songtaew cooperative, which is seen as supporting the ill-mannered road behaviour of songtaew drivers and their long record of protesting any form of competition.
The songtaew drivers warned that if they are taken off the streets, they would demand compensation of Bt1 million per vehicle from the government of, or a total of more than Bt2.7 billion...
Earlier: Finally! Public transportation in Chiang Mai - The Nation, February 25, 2005
...The three main routes for the trial service are Nong Prateep intersection to the foot of Doi Suthep (17 kilometres), Nong Hoi intersection to the 7th Infantry in Mae Rim (12km), and Chiang Mai railway station to Huay Kaew Road (13km).
The routes have been established for some time, with yellow buses having plied them more than 10 years ago...

OTP planning for Chiangmai transportation hub: 176 billion baht price tag - translated and summarized from Transport Journal, December 16-31, 2004
OTP is planning for a Chiangmai transportation hub after receiving the request from Premier Thaksin to support the BIMSTEC economic zone (Bangladesh, India, Myanma, Thailand, China--southwestern provinces), The project has the price tag of 176 billion baht. The selected projects are:
1) Chiangmai LRT - a study on the viable routes done by Chiangmai University to be delivered to OTP. LRT is the only option for an old city like Chiangmai.
2) Airport Railway (or Airport LRT) connecting Chaingmai International Airport with downtown Chiangmai--either old Chaignmai or New Chiangmai Airport.
3) Reorganization of Chiangmai Red minibuses to function as feeder lines
4) New motorways linking Chaingmai with other northern cities such as Mae Hongson, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nan, Phayao
5) Double tracking of Chaingmai-Lamphun as both suburban lines as well as support for cargo
6) Realization of Denchai-Chiang Rai route with the extension to Chiang Khong Port
Short-term solutions are to construct flyovers and tunnels around Chaingmai to be done in 2006 with a price tag of 1 billion baht. Medium-term solutions are to construct road networks with a price tag of 40 billion baht from 2007 to 2013.
The long term is to implement Chiang Mai LRT network, double tracking of Chiangmai-Lamphun, the new Denchai-Chiang Rai railway and ultimately, the second Chiangmai International Airport [Shinawatra International Airport?]. This has to be done from 2014 to 2024.

Govt speeds up Chiang Mai's mass transit project - TNA, November 18, 2004
...Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has approved 140 million baht for the study at a roving cabinet meeting, held in Thailand's northern city of Lamphun, two months ago.
The electric rail system, other rail transit systems, private local taxi services and the municipality's air-conditioned buses will be included in the study.
... "The construction period should not be longer than two years," he said...

German experts invited for Chiangmai LRT system - translated and summarized from Manager Online, August 7, 2004
The Traffic Policy Office is inviting German experts to study the Chiangmai LRT so as to find the right system for Chiangmai. The plan will be started by the end of this month.
After the cabinet resolution for the study of the Chiangmai LRT, Chiangmai City Hall needs experts from other countries to get more data for the right system for Chiangmai--after discussion to demarcate the preliminary routs for the LRT.
So far, Chiangmai City Hall trusts German technology for mass transit system since their work in Bangkok has been a proven success.
Commentary: The opinions about the proposed Chiangmai LRT can be seen here. Most netters have very positive viewpoints except those who have a vested interest on the red minibus whose owners happen to be Premier Thaksin's sister.

Chiangmai LRT becoming a reality by the end of 2006 - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, July 12, 2004 & Dailynews, July 13, 2004
The Traffic Policy Office is planning for the 4-billion baht Chiangmai LRT proposed by the Chiangmai Municipality to be done by the end of 2006 after receiving 147 million baht in study funds. At the same time, the Traffic Policy Office is asking Chiangmai Municipality to reorganize some parts of the little red Chiangmai minibus by the mid-2005.
This 147 million baht study fund will enable both the Traffic Policy Office and Chaingmai Municipality to collect additional data from the existing proposed routes (Chiangmai New Government Office - Chotetana Road - Chaingmai Airport - Hang Dong), the cost for system implementation and so on. This will help Chaingmai to handle traffic which is going to increase from 1 million trips a day in 2004 to 2.5 million trips a day in 2014.
It will take 9 months to come up with the right form of LRT as well as the suitable routes and details of the construction so that Chaingmai will have the new LRT by the end of 2006.
The little red Chaingmai bus will be reorganized (1,200-1,500 buses from 2,800 buses at present) by the middle of 2005

Chiang Mai's mass transit scheme agreed in principle - Bangkok Post, June 30, 2004
...Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a Chiang Mai native, suggested an elevated monorail system in outer areas and a subway system in inner areas, Mr Torpong said. The mass transit project for Chiang Mai is likely to cost five billion baht..,

Older Chiang Mai Mass Transit news
Chiang Mai Subway quick facts
What is the present status of the project? A November 4, 2000 seminar at Chiang Mai Unoversity conluded the project is unlikely to get off the ground in the next 10 years. In 2003, new routes were proposed. In 2004 the cabinet approved studies for a light rail system instead of a subway (see articles on the right).
How many lines were planned?
Four. See below.
What are the costs?  The Mae Rim route is expected to cost 10 billion baht. All four routes are estimated at 41 billion baht.
How many passenger would it carry? Planners estimate it would carry about 169,000 passengers a day if it begins operations in the next five or six years.

When will the project start/finish? The whole project would take four years to complete. The project is just in the planning stages now--no timetables have been set. The man in charge at the Expressway Authority of Thailand told me he does not want people calling him up and asking "when's the subway going in?" He does not know!
Are there plans for subways in Thai cities other than Bangkok and Chiang Mai? The Expressway Authority of Thailand has made surveys for mass transit projects in Korat and Phuket as well, but only Chiang Mai has progressed to the point where a route map has been made.

Chiang Mai Subway Lines
These are the pre 2003 station lists. 2003 routes are here.

1) Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center - Upakhut - Buak Krok
    Recommended to be the first line constructed.
    This line will follow Highway 1006 to the Chotana Intersection and then will follow the Upakhut Road to Jaeng Sriphoom. It will go underground after passing Jaeng Sriphoom and continue east to Upakhut Temple, Chiang Mai Railway Station, and hit the Super Highway (Highway 11). The line will end up at the depot at Buak Krok.
    There will be two park and rides: one at Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center and the other at Buak Krok Depot.
    Eventually a northern extension will go to the 7th Artillery Battalion and the Mae Rim Intersection, and an eastern extension will go to San Kamphaeng Station

Station List:
Above ground:
1.1) Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center
1.2) Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization
1.3) The 33rd Army Circle Stadium
Underground :
1.4) Chotana Intersection
Above ground:
1.5) Muen Dam Phra Khot Road.
1.6) Municipal Stadium
1.7) Jaeng Sriphoom - Junction to Chiang Mai-Jaeng Sriphoom Line
1.8) Wat Upakhut - Junction to Hangdon-Sansai line
1.9) Wat San Pa Khoi
1.10) Chiang Mai Railway Station
Above ground:
1.11) Super Highway
1.12) Nong Pa Krang Commune
1.13) Buaak Krok - the line depot

2) Hang Dong (Four-way) Intersection - Chang Klan - San Sai Tee (Three-way) Intersection
    Recommended to be the second line constructed.
    The line begins at Chiang Mai Airport and goes to the Golf Driving Field, Hai Ya Road, Wat Srisuphan, Hai Ya Gate, Saeng Tawan Intersection, and follows Highway 118 to end at San Phra Nate commune.
    There will be two park and rides: one at the Airport and the other at San Phanet Commune.
    Eventually, a western extension will go from the Airport to Hang Dong intersection and a southeast extension will go from San Phranet Commune to San Sai intersection.

Station List:
Above ground:
2.1) Chiang Mai Airport
2.2) Golf Driving Field
2.3) Hai Ya Road
2.4) Wat Sri Suphan
2.5) Hai Ya Gate
2.6) Saeng Tawan Intersection - Junction to Saeng Tawan Intersection-Chiang Mai Land
2.7) Upakhut Temple - Junction to Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center-Upakhut-Buak Krok line
2.8) Chaing Mai Hospital
2.9) Wichayanon Road.
2.10) Phayap University
2.11) Highway 118 - Fah Ham Commune
2.12) San Phanet Commune

3) Chiang Mai University - Jaeng Sriphoom (Sriphoom corner of City Wall)
    Line suspended due to the short distance.
    This line will follow Suthep Road to Jaeng Sriphoom and will be completely underground.

Station List:
3.1) Chiang Mai University
3.2) Chiang Mai Polytechnic College
3.3) Kad Suang Kaeo
3.4) Jaeng Hua Lin - the end of Suthep Road
3.5) Jaeng Phueak Gate
3.6) Jaeng Sriphoom - Junction to Chiang Mai Bureaucrat Center-Upakhut-Buak Krok line

4) Saeng Tawan (Four-way) Intersection - Chiang Mai Land
    Line suspended due to the short distance.
    Eventually a southern extension will be an above-ground train to (1) Nong Hoy Intersection-Highway 1317 and (2) Saraphee Intersection.

Station List:
4.1) Saeng Tawan Intersection
4.2) Wiang Phing Hospital
4.3) Rakaeng Road-Montfort School
4.4) Lanna Palace Hotel
4.5) Chiang Mai Land

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