The Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) System is Bangkok’s Subway system, and right now only the Blue Line is in operation, but a lot more are being planned to be made. It is a World-class system, as good as any found on the other major Asian cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, etc. It is very modern, and like most modern structures it is made up of a lot of Marble and Stainless Steel. The Blue Line currently runs from the Bang Sue to the Hua Lamphong Stations, with 16 Stations in between, and fares run from a minimum of THB 16 to a maximum of THB 41, or P 21 to P 55 assuming an exchange rate of THB 1 = P 1.33.
’Entrance and Ticketing’
The entrance to the MRT are either thru Stairs, Elevators or Escalators, with the Escalators being used as the main entrance due to its ability to transport quickly a lot more people at any given time than the Stairs or Elevators.
And unlike the Escalators on our shi$#ty Manila Mass Rail Transit (MMRT) 3 or Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 Systems, theirs look fantastic, are well-maintained and work almost all of the time.
For Single Journeys, the MRT uses a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Token instead of an RFID Card or a Magnetic Strip Card (MSC). This I feel is better since it is lighter to carry around, and easier to use (easier to drop into the turnstiles, for example). The RFID Token is tapped on the Turnstiles to go towards the Train Platform, and then inserted and left in the Turnstiles upon leaving the Train Station.
The RFID Token is available on Vending Machines which are very easy to operate. The units are Touch Screen, so you just first choose either the Thai or English language menus. Then you select onscreen the station that you want to go to, and the price of the ticket is then displayed. The machine accepts both Paper Bills and Coins, although it only gives changes in Coins. After the exact or more than the exact amount of the price is inserted, the machine then dispenses the token and coin change/s if there are any.
’Train Platform and Signs’
With the token, you can now enter the turnstiles to get to the second level where the train platforms are.
The Train Platforms are great, with barriers that prevent access by people into the tracks.
The signs are top notch, with the Station Guides for example showing greyed out stations that the train already passed by so you will easily know which direction a particular train track is going.
There are also excellent Exit Guides that tell you what Exits are available, where they are and where they end up to. Then you just look for and follow the number of the Exit where you want to go to.
’Reflections and Observations’
Bangkok’s Subway is very modern, very nice and gives one a very State-of-the-Art feel about it. You really feel like you are in a modern city. Some stations even give you that feeling of arriving in an airport. I did notice that it is not as busy as their above-the-ground train system, the BTS Skytrain. It only gets filled up during the Rush Hours, unlike the Skytrain where it seems like it is always full. The stations are quite cool and comfortable during the off-peak hours, but it does get hot also when there are too many people around.
The only problem with the Token Vendo Machines is that the tokens and coins end up being too low around your knee area when they are dispensed, so you will need to feel around the slot where the tokens and coins are. Also, tourists new to the system tend to slow the lines a lot as it takes time for them to operate the system.
Unlike the Skytrain where you have a good view of Bangkok, the Subway unfortunately naturally does not offer the same view, hence it is a much less scenic route to take. They have opened a line to the Airport that is connected to the Subway and Skytrain, but I never took it since I have a big luggage and didn’t want to lug it around that much, so I just took a cab. But you do see tourists in the Subway every now and then with their luggage, so either they just arrived, or are heading for the airport.
Just like the Skytrain, the MRT is a Tourist’s best friend. It allows you to zip in and around Bangkok quickly, reliably and cheaply. It is a World-class System, which makes Bangkok truly a World-class City also. It is the kind of system that us here in the Philippines can only dream of, and makes me wonder IF any of our next Presidents can build such a fantastic system here in our country.
Now I am not even going to try to compare it to the kind of SH$# that we call the LRT 1 or MMRT 3 because there simply is no comparison. It would be like comparing a Tuk Tuk (Thailand’s version of our Tricycle transport) to a Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) Car.
I loved that Subway and Skytrain a lot, and it is one of the things I will miss most in Bangkok. I think I will be having some “Withdrawal Symptoms” for the next couple of days or weeks upon arriving here in this overpopulated Catholic country of ours where most things do NOT work …