Traffic snarls to last five years
The Transport Ministry is warning Bangkok residents to brace for what could be five years of extraordinary traffic congestion.
- Published: 1/01/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Traffic at the Silom-Rama IV Road intersection is flowing well, particularly now with so many motorists having left Bangkok to celebrate New Year in the provinces. The Transport Ministry is warning Bangkok motorists to brace for traffic congestion this year from a dramatic increase in the number of private cars. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
The addition of more than 1 million new cars as part of the first car-buyer scheme, coupled with less road space during the onset of several new electric railway projects could make Bangkok commutes even more miserable.
Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt said the construction of four of five new railway projects will begin between this month and September.
The construction sites will compete for road space with an increasing number of vehicles, Mr Chadchat said.
The government plans to expedite the projects after they suffered delays due to political instability, he said, adding the projects should be wrapped up within five years.
The upgraded railway network will give people more alternatives to driving, he said.
Rather than encouraging motorists to buy new cars, as the government has done under the first-time buyer scheme, the government now plans to come up with measures to reduce the number of private vehicles.
"It is possible the government will start charging motorists for using roads in inner Bangkok," Mr Chadchat said.
Regarding the railway projects on which work will be expedited, the 7.9km Red Line linking Bang Sue and the Airport Rail Link at the Phaya Thai station will be the first to break ground this month.
Then in April, the construction of another 14km section of the Red Line from Taling Chan and Salaya in western Bangkok will follow.
Next up in September is the construction of the 7km Dark Green Line from Saphan Mai in northern Bangkok to Ku Kot in Pathum Thani province.
Also that month, work will start on another 11.4km section of the Dark Green Line linking Saphan Mai and Mor Chit.
The 26.3km section of the Red Line from Bang Sue to Rangsit is still under a bidding process, but Mr Chadchat insisted the contracts will be signed by 2014. These new railway projects are expected to add to motorists' travelling times, making Bangkok commutes even more difficult, he said.
The Jor Sor 100 FM radio station, which broadcasts city traffic reports, said unusual traffic congestion has been noticed outside of rush hour periods since late last year.
The number of vehicles on the road is also likely to increase.
By Dec 29 last year, 1,194,000 first-time car buyers had registered for tax rebates from the government under the scheme, according to the Excise Department.
The department said the number of new cars may have reached 1.3 million by last night's deadline for internet applications.
Bangkok can accommodate 1.6 million vehicles, but last year there were more than 7 million registered vehicles in the city, according to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
Extreme road congestion is expected to last until at least 2017.
Phahon Yothin Road, where the Dark Green Line will be built, is likely to be among the most congested routes, the Office of Transport and and Traffic Policy and Planning said.
Gridlocks have been experienced by many motorists on sections of Phetkasem and Charan Sanitwong roads, where sections of the 27km Blue Line connecting Bang Sue, Tha Phra and Bang Kae are being built.
The 23km Purple Line from Bang Sue to Bang Yai and the 5.3km Dark Green Line from Wong Wian Yai to Bang Wa, as well as its 12.8km section from Bearing to Samut Prakan are also all under construction. These four projects are expected to be completed at various points by 2017.
In total, the government will build 10 rail routes, including the 15km section of the Red Line from Bang Sue to Taling Chan which is now finished and is being tested. The government is speeding up construction work on the electric trains in Bangkok and the high-speed railways to areas upcountry, Mr Chadchat said. "The years 2013 and 2014 will be a turning point for Thailand," he said.
About the author
- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook
- Position: Reporter