Govt aims for 5 million Bangkok train commuters daily

Govt aims for 5 million Bangkok train commuters daily

Arkhom: Trying to discourage car use
Arkhom: Trying to discourage car use

More than five million city folk will use electric train lines daily once the capital's planned routes are completed in five years' time, says Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

The transport chief's comments were made at a campaign event held by the Ministry of Transport and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning on Thursday to encourage commuters to use skytrains and subways instead of cars to travel.

Mr Arkhom said around 10-12 million people -- counting an estimate of those not registered -- now live and work in Bangkok. "The goal is to increase the number of electric train line passengers about five times more than present, to decrease the amount of traffic in the capital," Mr Arkhom said.

"As of now, there are around 1.4 million people who use the trains each day."

He said the ministry's "One Transport" policy to create "seamless" links between all modes of transport will see the construction of 10 electric train lines, eight of which have already been planned.

The last of these eight lines, the planned MRT Orange Line stretching from the Thailand Cultural Centre to Min Buri, is scheduled for launch in 2023.

Other lines in the ministry's master plan include the Green Sukhumvit Line's northern and southern extensions, the MRT Blue Line's extensions, and the State Railway of Thailand's Red Line (Taling Chan-Bang Sue-Rangsit).

Thailand's first monorail systems, the Pink Line (Khae Rai-Min Buri) and the Yellow Line (Lat Phrao-Samrong) will both be open by 2021, according to reports by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand, which owns the routes.

According to Mr Arkhom, the 10 total electric train lines will span 464km across the capital.

He also said the common ticketing system, set to allow commuters to gain access to all modes of transport with a single card, will help promote seamless travel within the capital, which could help reduce traffic congestion on roads.

"By around mid-year, we will see public buses connect to the Airport Rail Link, and also the MRT Purple Line, the latter of which we are also trying to push a deal through for," he said.

"The Purple Line is under a public-private-partnership investment model, which makes it easier to integrate the route into the common ticketing plans.

"Routes run by private companies such as the BTS Green Line and the MRT Blue Line [run by Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc] will need lengthier negotiations."

Mr Arkhom also said bus route reforms, first initiated last year by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, are set to continue this year.

He said the reforms must focus on decreasing the overlapping routes among bus operators in Bangkok. The second priority, he said, will be cutting the distance of some routes to increase bus frequencies for passengers.

Mr Arkhom said the final focus of the reforms would be establishing new routes, which could also act as feeder systems for future electric train lines.

He added that transport authorities are conducting studies on passenger traffic in the capital, and these are scheduled to be concluded by year-end.

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