Nonthaburi Civic Center station is a Bangkok MRT station on the Purple Line, Pink Line, and the future Brown Line. Unfortunately for Bangkok, the station doesn’t provide an integrated transfer between lines.
The urban rail transit system of Bangkok has been expanding at an impressive rate over the last decade. New lines have been added and services have been extended into the neighbouring provinces that make up the Bangkok Metropolitan Region.
To the north of Bangkok is Nonthaburi province, which is served by the MRT Purple Line and MRT Pink Line. The SRT Light Red Line runs along the southern border of the province, and Bang Kruai-EGAT station on this line is located in Nonthaburi. There is also the planned Brown Line monorail, which will meet the Purple Line and Pink Line at Nonthaburi Civic Center.
The Purple, Pink, and Brown lines are shown on the Bangkok masterplan map (M-MAP 2) as a tidy interchange station.
[View full size map.]
Here is Nonthaburi Civic Center on the map.
[Nonthaburi Civic Center on M-MAP 2,]
I was cautiously optimistic to see this station in real life. I wondered what a purpose-built 3-line interchange would look like, considering that the planners knew in advance that three lines would converge there. I say cautiously because this is Bangkok, where building an interchange that is useful for commuters is usually overridden by the self-interest of the companies that build and operate the railways. I have previously written about the station transfer mess of Bangkok’s rail transit.
I visited Nonthaburi Civic Center after the Pink Line opened, and I was disappointed with what has been built. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I still expected more.
The Purple Line is an elevated station on Rattanatibet Road. The Pink Line is also an elevated station on Rattanatibet Road, but it’s 550 metres away from the Purple Line Station. That’s half a kilometre!
[Viewing the Pink Line station from the Purple Line.]
The two lines are operated by different companies, so there is no unified ticket system. I have covered this topic in the article about the ticketing mess of Bangkok’s rail transit.
[Ticket exit at Nonthaburi Civic Center Purple Line.]
The two stations are connected by an elevated walkway. At least it is covered and has step-fee access.
[Walkway to Nonthaburi Civic Center Pink Line Monorail.]
Here is the elevated walkway as viewed from the ground.
[Elevated walkway from Purple Line to Pink Line.]
Here is how the walkway is represented on the area map at the Pink Line station.
I had imagined that the two stations would be next to each other, because that would have been the most logical thing to do. It would have been good have the stations built to be ready for if/when the system becomes unified.
The third line is the proposed Brown Line monorail. There is a plot of land opposite the Pink Line station that is reserved for the Brown Line station.
There is a sign at this plot of land showing the route of the Brown Line.
I have marked this space and the other stations on this Google map.
[Map of Nonthaburi Civic Center area.]
This was a missed opportunity to build a great transit hub in Nonthaburi. I travelled from central Bangkok to Nonthaburi Civic Center, and it’s time-consuming and a hassle to change at such badly-designed interchanges. I was only doing this once, so image commuters doing this twice a day.
Seeing the three lines on the map reminded me of the future Ben Thanh Station in Ho Chi Minh City. This transit hub will be an underground interchange for three lines. Even though it has been frustrating to see how slow the HCMC Metro has been built, I commend the planners for building all of the future platforms first, even if the next two lines are years away from being built.
The main road at Nonthaburi is wide enough to have built a large elevated interchange. There is also an abandoned building next to the Brown Line land that looks like it will be demolished. They could have built a big interchange on that land. In addition to a mega interchange, they could have built a landmark tower on top of the interchange, and turn the interchange into a destination for Nonthaburi. They could have built a shopping centre, office block, or apartments here, and then rented it out.
Realistically representing station interchanges on maps
I visited other current and future interchanges around Bangkok, and it is clear that lessons of previous interchange failures have not been learnt. The authorities are continuing to allow interchanges that are hostile to commuters to be built. These interchanges should at least be represented more accurately on maps.
For inspiration, the designers of Bangkok’s urban rail transit maps should look at the Kuala Lumpur transit map.
[Klang Valley Integrated Transit Map (view full size).]
Kuala Lumpur (officially the Klang Valley Integrated Transit System) is a good example for Bangkok to follow. They got off to a bad start by letting different operators use separate ticketing systems and build non-interchangeable stations.
Masjod Jamek was an early example where two lines met on opposites sides of the road. Passengers had to leave one station, and then cross the road to the other station. It has now been fixed to be a same-ticket transfer station.
The new lines in KL are now being built with integrated interchanges, such as the TRX station.
The stations in KL that don’t have a ticketed interchange are represented with a grey line on the map. This signals that you have to walk outside the station and use another ticket. Here is a section of the KL map.
A perfect example for Nonthaburi Civic Center to follow is the Bukit Bintang interchange. At this interchange there is an elevated monorail and underground metro line. Passengers have to exit the paid sections of either station and reenter the other. It’s a feasible interchange, but they are being honest in what sort of interchange it is. This interchange is not represented with a dot, which would suggest a seamless interchange.
On the same map is the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) interchange. This is a cross-platform interchange, where you get off one line and cross the platform to board the other line in the same direction. This is the same type of interchange that was built at Siam on the BTS Lines.
It might take some time for the official map makers to acknowledge these interchanges, so I call on the independent map makers to start showing the Bangkok interchanges like the KL map.