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Bangkok BRT System: Chong Nonsi BTS (Sathorn) to Ratchapruek

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Bangkok BRT System: Chong Nonsi BTS (Sathorn) to Ratchapruek

Postby railex » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:04 pm

Spanning two separate visits in June 2010 I visited and documented the new Bangkok BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line running from the BTS station at Chong Nonsi to Ratchapruek Road in Thonburi. The two separate visits where required due to weather related issues that made photography difficult at some locations on the first visit.

A little background on the Bangkok BRT system.

The Bangkok BRT is owned by Krungthep Thanakom PCL an enterprise of the Bangkok City Council. The system is operated and staffed by Bangkok Mass Transit System PCL the owner and operator of the BTS skytrain system.

Planning for the BRT system began in 2004, followed by construction that commenced in 2007 and with completion and opening of the line due in 2008. However due to delays during construction and issues related to the purchase of the BRT buses. The BRT did not open until may 2010 around 2 years late. From May 2010 the BRT operated as a free trial service. Then in September 2010 a flat fare ticket was introduced.

The Bangkok BRT covers a 16.5km long route from Chong Nonsi (Sathorn) to Ratchapruek via Narathiwat Ratchanakharin and Rama 3 Roads then crossing into Thonburi via the Rama 3 Bridge for the final station. The BRT line has a total of 12 stations. All stations are built at grade but with high level platforms to allow for step free access to the buses.

Each station on the BRT system was constructed as an island platform in the centre median of the road. These stations are accessed via an overhead footbridge that also acts as a station concourse for ticketing. Each station has escalators to assist passengers entering the stations. To ensure a narrow platform gap at each station a set of concrete guide rails were installed to guide the buses into the platform by using a set of guide wheels installed on each bus that would line up with rails. Only Ratchapruek station is different with separate arrival and departure stations all accessed at grade level.

The entire BRT route along Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Road runs in 24/7 totally segregated bus lanes. However the section along Rama 3 road all the way to terminus at Ratchapruek Road is only partly segregated. This is due to the narrow flyovers and bridges on Rama 3 road thus forcing the BRT buses to re enter the normal traffic lanes.

Right from the outset of the BRT there have been issues with the line. Issues related to zero driver training prior to opening of services leading to bus drivers having problems lining up with platforms and ripping the guide wheels off due to poor alignment at stations. The lack of pre opening driver training resulted in delays on all services for the 1st couple of months. Also ongoing issues at some stations with regular escalator failure likely related to either poor installation or maintenance of the escalators.

Another issue was the lack of a continuous segregated bus lane for the entire route. This is especially problematic between Ratchapruek and Rama 3 Bridge stations as most of that section does not have a bus lane. This section also is subject to chronic traffic at any time and can add up to 30 minutes to a one way journey. Mixed traffic running also occurs on all Rama 3 road flyovers which leads to further delays to the BRT service. At all junctions on Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Road there are traffic lights that often don't give priority to the BRT buses at these junctions.

There are 25 buses used on the Bangkok BRT all of them are Sunlong SLK6125CNG and were imported from mainland china. Each bus is 12 meters long and are fully air conditioned with a single powered sliding door each side of the bus. The BRT buses are powered by CNG that is refilled at public fuel stations off route. Internally the buses are laid out for maximum standing capacity as there are only a small number of seats under the windows and across the back. This is less than ideal on a bus service with a rather rough ride. A passenger information screen is provided in each bus but this is often out of service due to computer issues.

Passenger ridership levels are around 17000 per day mostly during morning and afternoon peaks. Off peak the BRT is underused. During the peak periods it can be overcrowded resulting in passengers being forced to wait for the next service in hope they can get on. An average BRT trip take 40 minutes to cover the 16.5 km route. At peak periods this can swell to over 70 minutes due to chronic traffic congestion in the mixed traffic sections of the route along Rama 3 road. The lack of peak hour capacity on the BRT is an ongoing problem for the BRT that will curtail future expansion of the system. All other mass transit projects in Bangkok currently under construction are either heavy rail metro or commuter rail systems.

The future of the BRT is rather uncertain as there were plans for another 5 BRT routes in other parts of Bangkok all of which have been cancelled or put on long term hold. This mostly due to issues obtaining road space to provide the bus lanes on already congested roads and a limited peak hour capacity that can be very quickly overwhelmed. In general it is more likely that a regional Thai city such as Chiang Mai would consider building a BRT system in the future. As the demands are less intense in these rural cities and the BRT would provide a huge improvement in local mass transit coverage. Thus it appears to be unlikely that another BRT line will be built in Bangkok due to ongoing issues with the current line.

5. This is an shot of the fully air conditioned departure station at Ratchaphruek. In front of the BRT station is a pair of concrete guide rails to help the bus line up level with the platform.

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56. This is a video of a Sunlong BRT bus being loaded at the fully air conditioned departure platform at Sathorn BRT station. Note how the inner doors close before the bus doors start closing and how slow the bus has to move to ensure correct alignment with the doors.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HQmLB5RNc0

64. This is a shot of a Sunlong BRT bus passing over the Rama 3 Bridge on its way to Sathorn. This section of the BRT does not have a segregated bus lane.

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84. This is another shot of a BRT bus taken as it enters the platform guideway at Rama 9 Bridge BRT station with a service to Ratchaphruek.

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90. This is a shot of a BRT bus taken as it re enters the mixed traffic lanes on the flyover just after Rama 9 Bridge station. Note the police car about to cut in front of the BRT bus.

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91. This is an image of a BRT bus as it waits to depart from Rama 9 Bridge BRT station on a service to Ratchaphruek.

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100. This is a shot of a Sunlong BRT bus after it had departed from Wat Dan BRT station on a service to Ratchaphurek.

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If you would like to see more images and video of the Bangkok BRT system please visit:

http://thaitransit.blogspot.com.au/2012 ... i-bts.html

I hope you find the pictures and vehicles shown to be of interest if you view this please post some comments and feelings about the pictures.
Thai Mass Transport Systems http://thaitransit.blogspot.com/ Check it out now.
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Re: Bangkok BRT System: Chong Nonsi BTS (Sathorn) to Ratchap

Postby Mr OC Benz » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:39 pm

Ahhh... Thanks for posting in more detail about the system. I went for a ride on the line when I was there in September. It took about 30-35mins to get to Ratchaphruek from the beginning station. The onboard screens did log in about half-way through the trip, but yes, like most other similar BRT's I've been on in Asia, they are rather uncomfortable, especially if you're standing. Terrible road services, drivers aren't the best and the actual buses themselves don't really have good suspension.

Nevertheless, besides some of the problems they've experienced, it seems to fit in quite well.
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