Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) or Skytrain (Thai: รถไฟฟ้า)
is the elevated metro system in Bangkok, Thailand, operated by
Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited (BTSC)
under a concession granted by the Bangkok Metropolitan
Administration (BMA). With 23 stations along 2 lines, it was opened
on December 5, 1999 by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
The Sukhumvit line runs northwards and eastwards, terminating at
Mo Chit and On Nut respectively; the Silom line plies Silom and Sathon,
the Central Business District of Bangkok, terminating at
the National Stadium and Saphan Taksin (Taksin Bridge). The lines
interchange at Siam station and have a combined route distance
of 23 km. The Skytrain is formally known as the Elevated Train in
Commemoration of HM the King's 6th Cycle Birthday
(รถไฟฟ้าเฉลิมพระเกียรติ 6 รอบ พระชนมพรรษา) because it was opened to
the public on HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 72nd birthday.
Bangkok also has an underground railway system called the MRT
or unofficially the Metro.
The MRT system was initially referred to as the Lavalin Skytrain
because it was to be designed using the Vancouver SkyTrain as
a model adopting the technology developed by SNC Lavalin.
Due to political interference, the concession with Lavalin was cancelled
in 1992, in spite of Bangkok's chronic traffic congestion.
The Thai Government focused on increasing road and expressway
infrastructure in an attempt to combat congestion. However,
this had less than the desired impact as the number of cars on the road
increased dramatically. The lines considered under the skytrain project
became later the basis for the Bangkok Metro system and interesting
enough are mainly underground.
In the early 1990s, foundations for the Lavalin Skytrain were constructed
in the middle of two bridges spanning the Chao Phraya river.
The Taksin bridge now supports the under-construction Silom line to
Thon Buri, scheduled be completed by June 2007. The supports at
Phra Pokklao bridge remain unused but may be utilised as part
of the MRT's future Purple Line.
Shortly after the it became clear that the Lavalin Skytrain was stalled,
then-governor Major-General Chamlong Srimuang asked his deputy
Krisda Arunvongse na Ayutthaya to create a new feeder system
with a route along Sukhumvit and Silom Rd. Krisda, who in the same
period was elected governor, and his team from BMA managed to find
an investor to build it. Krisda also convinced all to let the city
supervise the project. The investor founded Bangkok Transit System
Corporation and this company successfully financed the system
and grew it from a feeder system to a full mass transit project.
Siemens as supplier of the railway technology and the Thai contractor
Italian Thai Development built the system for BTSC.
The 'Skytrain' name was given to the system later by the press.
It stuck and will likely be kept even though the portion of system
through the historic Rattana Kosin island will one day be below grade.
Originally, the Skytrain depot was to be built in Lumphini Park,
but due to widespread objections from Bangkok residents it was
constructed on a parcel of land located along Phahon Yothin Road,
replacing the old Northern/Northeastern bus terminal (Mo Chit).
The current depot at Mo Chit is a part of the proposed
'Bangkok Terminal' project, where a large complex comprising a new
regional bus terminal, park & ride facility and other commercial
development can be built directly above it.
Thanayong Public Company Limited (Thai บริษัท ธนายง จำกัด (มหาชน))
had a 28.21% stake in BTSC when the Skytrain began, and therefore
in its early days the system was sometimes referred to as the
The Skytrain initially had lower-than-predicted ridership,
with 200,000 passenger trips per day. Ticket revenue was only
enough to meet the trains' operating cost, and not sufficient to
service construction loans. However, the Skytrain's daily passenger
numbers have steadily increased since then. On December 9, 2005,
more than 500,000 single trips were made on the Skytrain in a single day
for the first time. BTSC is currently planning to purchase more trains
and is studying the possibility of putting 6-car trains into service.
The company will implement a contactless ticketing system in 2006,
allowing both BTS and MRT passengers to use their RFID smart cards
as joint tickets starting in 2007
All the stations to the skytrain are elevated.
The platforms are built to accommodate trains of six cars,
but trains of only three cars are in operation.
The first elevated level of the stations is accessed with stairs
and often escalators, and contain the ticket booths, some small
kiosk-like shops and access control gates. The second level
(and third at Siam station) is again accessed with stairs
and escalators and contains the platforms and rails. Siam station is
unique in the way that it is the only BTS station with island platforms,
to facilitate transfer between lines. All of the other stations have
side platforms. Additionally, many stations have ramps and elevators
to allow wheelchair-bound passengers to access the ticketing hall
and platform from the street. The distance between doors is equal
throughout the train, regardless of whether they are in the same
or different cars and the locations where the doors will be after
the train has stopped are marked on the platform. For security
and safety, security personnel are stationed at every platform
and all ticketing halls.
Three Skytrain stations, Sala Daeng, Asok and Mo Chit,
are interchanges with the MRT. Saphan Taksin station is connected
to the adjacent Sathon pier where the all Chao Phraya Express river boat
services call. Many stations are linked by 'Skybridges'
(overhead pedestrian walkways) to neighbouring buildings
and public amenities.
Consumption of food or drink is forbidden past
the ticketing gate or on the Skytrain.
For single-trip and store-value ticket holders fares are calculated
according to distance, but adult / student / tourist passes for limited /
unlimited train rides are also available. Next to the magnetic farecards,
which require replacement once every two years, the Skytrain has
adopted near-field contactless technology in its ticketing system,
with the intent of becoming compatible with the system presently
used in the MRT.