Roughly 22 years after the BTS Silom line was opened, construction on a perennial “future” station in Sathorn is finally complete.
Yesterday, BTS Saint Louis (S4) opened for trial runs. Regular riders might recognize S4 as BTS Suksa Witthaya, a station that never materialized when the Silom line opened in 1999, but one for which riders had been paying since the skytrain’s inception.
Trips on the BTS from Chong Nonsi to Surasak stations most recently cost commuters B23 per trip instead of B16, the fare for trips to and from adjacent stations elsewhere along the line in the downtown core. (The BTS has maintained its fares are calculated on distance rather than the number of stations.)
Now, however, commuters are finally getting what they paid for in BTS Saint Louis. The station services Sathorn Sois 10-12 and its high rises, bars, and restaurants, as well as buildings such as the UOB Building (a.k.a., the robot building) and the AIA Sathorn Tower, which is now home to the British Embassy.
The addition of this station means only one “future” station still exists on the original BTS lines: BTS Sena Ruam (N6), a never-constructed stop between BTS Ari and Saphan Kwai.
Meanwhile, City Hall has backed down on nearly doubling the BTS fare ceilings—for now—which were to come into effect next week.
After its fare hike was met with public derision, as well as criticism from lawmakers, City Hall announced that governor Aswin Kwanmuang had agreed to postpone the increases along all BTS lines to up to B104, a temporary relief measure made to help ease the economic suffering brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement did not specify a date when the new fare structure would come into use.
Aswin last month had said he wouldn’t back down and would maintain the current max fare of B59 despite pressure from top transport officials, who noted that such an increase would make a ride on the BTS more expensive than comparable journeys in Hong Kong and Singapore.
The management of the city’s transport systems has courted plenty of controversy over the years, however.
In 2017, a fare hike of B1-2 per trip on the BTS was met with widespread criticism. BK reported that a commuter who took the train twice every weekday from Mo Chit to Siam would have to pay B1,040 more per year, or just under B90 extra per month—nearly a third of the minimum wage at the time.
The promise of the Mangmoom Card, a long-awaited stored-value card that could be used across Bangkok’s public transport systems, has never been realized, either.
Despite debuting in 2018 with assurances that consumers would be able to use it on both the MRT and Airport Rail Link (ARL) before the end of the year, the Mangmoom Card has never been compatible with the ARL, the BTS, city buses, or Chao Phraya express boats.
Additional reporting by Coconuts Bangkok.