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The Ever Expanding City Centre of Bangkok

When I first arrived to live in Bangkok back in 2000, the landscape of the city was an awful lot different to how it is now. True the BTS Sky Train had just opened in December 1999 with it’s 24 Stations joined up by just two lines, the Silom Line and the longer Sukhumvit Line, both coloured in Green

* You can go see BTS/MRT Map for more details.

The BTS (SkyTrain) Lines! Most Popular Mass Transit System

The BTS lines, still the longest and most popular of the Mass Transit Systems in Bangkok, barely covers the central area of the capital. In a city which boasts approximately 10 Million people (more than Greater London) it is still totally inadequate at linking the whole metropolis together.

When you compare Bangkok's transit systems to those in large established cities like London (with an estimated 8-9 million people living in the UK Capital), and see that it's serviced by over 240 Underground Train Stations, then you can better understand how Bangkok is lacking at just 10% of that!

In August 2005, the MRTA, often referred to as just the MRT, system opened in Bangkok and links up with the BTS in 3 separate areas, at the Mo Chit/ Chatuchak area of town in the North of Bangkok. In the Silom/ Saladaeng area near the CBD area of Bangkok, and in Sukuhumvit/ Asoke, right in the heart of the most international area of Bangkok where many Expats who work in Thailand live or have a base of sorts.

Skytrain Bangkok BTSAgain with its 18 stations (including the 3 that link with the BTS) the MRT has proved to be of great help to the traffic congestion in Bangkok, but is not yet adequate to service the 10 million inhabitants of Bangkok fully.

Of course and indeed fortunately the BMTA (Bangkok Metropolitan Traffic Authority) continue to try and expand the transit systems, but with a lack of Public Money and the constant hindrance of corruption this has proved to be a slow and difficult task.

Despite this there has been two significant further expansions and a third well and truly in the pipeline.

On May 2009, the BTS finally opened its two stations at Krungthonburi and Wang Wien Yai, the first two stations to be situated over the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi, an urban suburb of Bangkok

These stations had been ‘ready’ for almost 2 years, but due to political problems and corruption, they had remained idle whilst everyday 80,000 motorists in 50,000 cars fight each other to get to work in Sathorn and Silom via the Saphan Taksin bridge. The opening of these 2 new stations has greatly increased the number of passengers using the BTS and the MRT and has once again eased traffic congestion in vital areas of Bangkok.

The second significant extension is to the new Suvarnabhumi Airport opened in 2006, and will allow travellers to reach the City centre from the airport within 40 minutes in comfort and safety. The Bangkok Airport Link will link up with the BTS at Phaythai/ Rachapaprop and once again with the MRT at Petchaburi/ Makkasan.

Finally in the pipeline are 5 new stations stretching from On Nut to Bearing in the Bang Na area of Bangkok, to the East of the Siam Square City Center area. These are scheduled to open for business in late 2011.

What has this meant for Bangkok Real Estate Development?

Well the most obvious and best result from all this transit development has been increase in speed commuters can get to and from work and to the areas they want to get to, such as shopping malls, cinemas, parks and markets. And this in turn has meant a rapid increase in trade and development for the Bangkok City Centre areas.

Shops, Restaurants, Cafes, Cinemas, Bowlng Alleys, Bars, Dicos, Arcades, Markets and a whole host of other enternatinment areas and ideas have sprung up in and around the areas where the BTS and MRT operate.

And in addition to this, they have sprung up in response to the number of residents whom have decided to move closer to the Bangkok City Center into the new Condos and Apartments that have also taken advantage of the new transit systems

Thais, Europeans, Americans, Japanese, Australians, Chinese and a whole host of other nationalities that live and enjoy the Bangkok atmosphere, have decided to sacrifice space and relative tranqulity for the speed and a convenience of living in the bustling and vibrant areas of Silom and Sukhumvit.

Also in due to the imagination and commitment of developers to produce the best condos at the lowest an most reasonable prices, in recent years, since 2007, there has been an increase in the launch of Condominium Projects in the Ratchadaphisek and Phahonyothin areas of town.

A few examples of this are The Ivy Condo in Ratchadaphisek situatued within 50m of the Sutthisan MRT station. This has also very recently been joined by The Life at Sutthisan, whichi is actually situated even closer the MRT station at only 20m!

These buildings are new, chic, and modern in design. They all feature great facilties such as Gymnasiums, Fitness Rooms, Swimming Pools, Car Parking and 24 Hour Security.

A further example of a high-end condominium in these new area is The Wind Ratchayothin, at the junction of Phahonyothin and Ratchadaphisek. This high-end Bangkok condominium is also a high-rise at over 30 storeys tall it features 3.0m ceilings! With infinti style swimming pools, gymnasiums and top-class finishings, this condo will be come the bench-mark residence in the Phahonyothin area of town

MRT & BTS Transit Expansion – The Way Forward

So it can be seen, that like the patterns and experiences of older and more established cities like Tokyo, London and New York, large efficient and well planned out Mass Transit Systems can be of huge benefit to Bangkok and ultimately the Thai economy as whole.

By connecting people together with money, the transport system encourages more trade, more spending and a greate flow of money around the economy of Bangkok.

In additon the land and property closer to the transit systems become in demand more and therefore more valuable, pushing prices up and therefore an increase in Capital Growth for the owners of the properties.

In addition the new residents attracted by the convenience of the mass transit routes, in-turn attract many new business’, such as shops and cafes, which add to te convenience and quality of life for the City Centre inhabitants.

So Bangkok has started on the journey towards efficient Town Planning and Real Estate Investment Growth. With Bangkok Real Estate still massively undervalued compared with local neighbours such as Hong Kong and Singapore, now is still a great time to invest and live in Bangkok.

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