Bangkok’s expats received a major lifestyle boost this week with the launch of BRT, a luxury bus system poised to open up new neighbourhoods for accommodation and socialising.
The first route of the BRT – or Bus Rapid Transit – is set to launch this month, running along a 16-kilometre loop from the central Chong Nongsi skytrain station out along the Chao Phraya River and over the Rama III bridge into Thonburi.
Once the other four BRT routes are operating, the new air-conditioned coaches should carry 50,000 passengers each day – but the first route is expected to make a substantial, immediate contribution to expat lifestyles.
‘For overseas residents, in particular, the BRT will enhance their experience of the city,’ says Cyrille Hareux of real estate agency Company Vauban.
‘Most foreign residents in Bangkok have tended to live and relax in locations near the excellent Skytrain and Metro networks. The BRT’s luxurious, air-conditioned transport, running every 10 minutes, will open up some great new areas for them to live in and explore.’
With the city centre now only minutes away down dedicated bus lanes, expats can look beyond residential neighbourhoods like the Sukhumvit Road to find condos overlooking the Chao Phraya, or even across the river in the quiet, traditional surroundings of Thonburi, he said.
The new network also opens up leisure options such as Tawandaeng, a popular Thai interpretation of a German brewery bar that is currently setting up offshoots across Asia.
Unlike Bangkok’s conventional bus fleet, the BRT offers the convenience of electronic tickets, swiped at station gates and integrated with the city’s high-tech Skytrain network.
‘It’s another great step in Bangkok’s development into a city that matches the convenience of the first world with the energy and fascination of traditional Asian culture,’ says Cyrille Hareux.
‘Bangkok’s Metro and Skytrain have already banished the congestion and smog that once detracted from life here, the BRT – along with new Skytrain Metro lines under construction – will now give Bangkok one of the finest transport networks of any city in the world.’
Exploring the new BRT service is currently free, until the ticketing system is operational in September. Tickets will then be 10 baht until the year-end and from 12 to 20 baht next year.