Bangkok’s urban rail transit system added two new lines in 2023, bringing the total number of lines to ten. Two lines are currently under construction, and more lines are planned in the future.
This is a summary of news, lines under construction, and proposed lines. The last update was in December 2021, so this report covers the updates since then
A full guide to all lines can be found at the Bangkok Mass Rapid Transit System Guide.
Bangkok Transit Map
Here is what the Bangkok urban rail transit system looks like as of January 2024.
I will keep this map here as permanent record. I have updated maps on Nomadic Notes on the urban rail transit system of Bangkok page.
The future map (M-MAP2) was updated in 2023 and here is what it currently looks like.
[View full size map.]
For station locations, check the future map by BKK Greg.
[Yellow Line Map via mrta-yellowline.com.]
The Yellow Line monorail opened in June 2023. I had timed my Bangkok travels to be there for the opening of the line earlier in the year, but the line was delayed. I missed the opening, so I got Our Man in Bangkok to do a review of the Yellow Line.
[Yellow Line monorail at Hua Mak.]
I got to ride the line in December 2023, and in addition to Greg’s observations, my main impression was that the carriages were wider than I though they would be. I am used to the narrow carriages of the KL Monorail, so the wider carriages were a pleasant surprise.
[Inside the Yellow Line Monorail.]
The line has not been without problems, as a wheel fell off and hit a taxi.
The Pink Line opened in November 2023, so Bangkok had a historic year where two new transit lines opened in the same year. I am based in Ho Chi Minh City, which still hasn’t finished its first line after over ten years of construction. I can only dream of HCMC being able to open two lines in one year.
The Yellow and Pink lines are monorails that travel around the periphery of the city and in neighbouring provinces. The lines serve as a feeder for lines heading into central Bangkok.
I rode the length of the line and it was busy for most of the way. This was still in the free ticket period and on a Saturday, so maybe everyone was a curious transit tourist like myself.
[Passengers on the Pink Line.]
The line opening was marred by a conductor rail falling off and hitting three cars. Fortunately no one was injured.
If you have been following my reports for a while then you know that I have been covering the station transfer mess of Bangkok’s rail transit. Most of the interchange stations in Bangkok are not true interchanges. Passengers need to walk outside the station and buy separate tickets for most of the interchanges.
The Pink Line has four interchange stations, so I visited them all and rated them. One is surprisingly good, while the other three are unsurprisingly awful.
I started at the Nonthaburi Civic Center “interchange”, which if you looked at a map you would assume it’s a seamless interchange. Nonthaburi Civic Center station on the Purple Line MRT is 550 metres from the Pink Line Nonthaburi Civic Center station (according to Google Maps). They also use different ticketing systems, so this should not be called an interchange.
On the plus side, there is a covered walkway that connects the two stations, and there are lifts and step-free access.
[Walkway between Nonthaburi Civic Center stations.]
The next interchange is with the Red Commuter Line at Lak Si. The Red Line is operated by the SRT, so there is no integrated interchange.
[Lak Si map showing the monorail and commuter stations.]
There is a circuitous walk where you leave the Pink Line and go downstairs, cross a road and then go upstairs to another walkway to the Red Line. When you get to this walkway you are about level with the Pink Line again.
[Walking between the two Lak Si stations.]
The end of the Pink Line is at Min Buri, which will have an interchange with Min Buri Orange Line The stations are too far apart to be a convenient interchange.
[Min Buri Orange Line station as viewed from Min Buri Pink Line.]
Google Maps says that the two stations are 270 metres apart. These stations should have been built into the same building, even if they are lines by different operators. The government should enforce a law that makes new stations be built as true interchanges. Left to their own devices, the lines operators will not build convenient interchanges if it doesn’t benefit their company.
I returned to the Pink Line when paid ticketing began so I could see the interchange at Wat Phra Sri Mahathat station. I was amazed that a true interchange had been built between the BTS Sukhumvit and the Pink Line.
Upon departing the BTS you go down a level and walk straight to the platform of the Pink Line.
[Barrier-free interchange between the BTS Sukhumvit Line and Pink Line.]
The only catch is you have to use the right exit from the BTS to go to the right platform. There is a good reason for this, because the monorail station is built on either side of a highway that goes under the BTS station.
[Wat Phra Sri Mahathat station: BTS platform (top) viewed from the Pink Line platform.]
When you’re at the monorail platform you can see traffic of the highway passing by, with the other monorail platform on the other side. This is a complex interchange, but it goes to show that they can build a proper interchange with an old station. The only reason this was done though was because the two lines are run by the same operator. The operators are not forced to integrate the lines.
[Monorail platforms at Wat Phra Sri Mahathat station.]
While I was riding around I saw someone travelling in a wheelchair, and station attendants met them at the station with a portable ramp to wheel them off.
[Station attendant with portable wheelchair ramp.]
Another sign of progress I saw was the addition of toilets in the public area (not just in the ticketed area).
This is one of the things I look for that signals a civilised transit system. I first noticed this in Taipei, where the underground stations double as bomb shelters, so there are toilets everywhere. The older stations don’t have toilets (eg BTS and MRT Blue), though I noticed a sign at Lumphini on the MRT Blue line that you can ask the staff to use the toilet.
[Toilet sign at Lumphini.]
The Pink Line is operated Northern Bangkok Monorail Company Limited, which is a subsidiary of a BSR Joint Venture between BTSG, Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction PCL and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PCL. Confused yet? Basically the BTS also operates the Pink Line, so you can use your Rabbit Card on both lines and transfer seamlessly.
Oddly enough, this same JV operates the Eastern Bangkok Monorail Co., Ltd (the Yellow Line) but there is no seamless interchange between the BTS and the Yellow Line at Samrong. The Bangkok transit system is a tangled mess of different operators and ticketing systems, which the governor of Bangkok has been trying to unravel.
The Orange Line is being built in two stages. The east section is currently under construction, and there is a good construction website with maps and station details.
[Orange Line East Section (view full size).]
The site has a progress update, but it has been stuck at 98.65% since December 2022, like a file that has almost downloaded but you are waiting for it to hit 100%.
I visited Min Buri Station (near the Pink Line Min Buri), and it looked about 98.65% complete.
[Orange Line Min Buri Station.]
The west section of the Orange Line is not going as well. In March 2023 the extension was put ‘on hold’ due to legal issues. The Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) took the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) to court over changes to the bidding process. The court ruled in favour of the MRTA. In December it was reported that an irregularity regarding the qualification screening of bidders for the Orange Line was spotted.
Purple Line extension
The southern extension of the Purple Line is under construction. The 23.63 km extension will have ten underground stations and seven elevated stations. The line will pass through the old city area, travelling North-South through Rattanakosin Island.
I am eagerly anticipating this line because it will make the old city area more accessible, and there will be two proper underground interchanges. These stations will (hopefully) feel like a proper metro interchange.
Work is visible at the Democracy Monument station (which is a block away from the monument and not under it). This station will have an interchange with the Orange Line western extension.
[Traffic squeezing past the construction site of Democracy Monument station.]
The next station is Sam Yot, which will interchange with the MRT Blue Line.
[Sam Yot Purple Line construction at Sam Yot MRT Blue Line.]
I noticed a big construction site in front of Wat Bowon Niwet Ratchawarawihan near the backpacker area of Rambuttri Street and Khao San Road. I thought this was a new station for a minute and got excited that a station was being built near Khao San Road. This is an intervention shaft midway between two station, so no there is no backpacker station.
[Intervention shaft construction at Wat Bowon Niwet Ratchawarawihan.]
Bang Khun Phrom station is the next station north of Democracy Monument, and the Khao San Road area is about midway between Democracy Monument and Bang Khun Phrom. This will make getting to Khao San Road a bit easier by public transport, but it will still require three different trains if you are coming from either airport.
[Construction site of Bang Khun Phrom station.]
The next station north is National Library in Dusit District.
[Construction site of National Library station of the Purple Line MRT.]
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said that it wants the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRT) to take over the responsibility of investing in the Grey Line monorail, the light rail transit system between Bang Na and Suvarnabhumi International Airport and the extension of the Green Line from Bang Wa to Taling Chan.
Once of the ongoing issues of Bangkok’s transit system is the ticketing system and ticket prices. There is no unified ticketing system, which I have written about here: The ticketing mess of Bangkok’s rail transit.
Different schemes have been introduced to keep commuting costs down, such as a 20-baht flat fare for passengers who interchange between the Red and Purple lines using EMV contactless payment.
The BTS had been offering free travel on the Mor Chit-Khu Khot extension and Baring-Kheha extension. Passengers numbers dropped by 20.5% when ticketing began.
I got the BTS from Sukhumvit Road to Wat Phra Sri Mahathat station and then transferred to the Pink Line to go to Lak Si. That trip cost 80 baht. I then got a commuter train for 20 baht. That journey of three trains would not be uncommon for someone who lives in the outer reaches of the city and commutes to central Bangkok. That would be a 200 baht (45.60 USD) round trip every day.
Cities that have a unified ticketing system as able to cap daily spending because they can keep track of your travels. This is impossible in Bangkok with its current system of multiple operators.