Udon Thani mass-transit plan on cards

Feasibility study currently under way

The northeastern city is groaning under daily traffic jams, with citizens demanding better and faster mass transit planning. (Photo via YouTube/Daily #WIF)

Udon Thani residents have called on the government to usher in a mass-transit project in urban areas of Muang district to ease traffic congestion.

The demand was made as the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) held a meeting with relevant agencies and local residents about mass-transit development in the northeastern province late last month, OTP deputy director Wilairat Sirisoponsil said Thursday.

The meeting was part of the OTP's study of mass-transit development in Udon Thani.

The OTP is studying types of public transport that would best suit the province. They range from monorails, light rail transit, buses and mass rapid transit to trams.

The study also touches on the development of land surrounding public transport terminals as well as environmental impacts.

Officials would also glean opinions raised by Udon Thani people for the development, said Ms Wilairat.

Most of the people who attended the meeting favoured the development of a transit network in urban areas, particularly the zones that have shopping malls, fresh markets, schools, universities and government offices, said Ms Wilairat.

The transit network needs to be connected to bus terminals, train stations, the airport and ring roads surrounding Muang Udon Thani, she said.

It would allow people living outside Muang district to park their vehicles in surrounding areas and use public transport to commute to the inner urban areas, thereby helping reduce traffic congestion in these urban zones, she said about proposals raised by the locals.

Mass-transit routes in the province are likely to be decided next month, and authorities will decide which mode of public transport would best suit Udon Thani later.

The demand by Udon Thani residents came as the government is pushing for mass-transit development in the provinces.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved a royal decree that would enable the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) to oversee construction of urban mass-transit projects in Chiang Mai, Phangnga and Phuket.

A "Light Rail Transit" (LRT) system, or lightweight trains, would be developed between Phangnga's Thanun train station and Chalong intersection in Phuket, running for a total of 58.5 kilometres.

The 39-billion-baht project, which has 24 stations, will also pass Phuket International Airport. A maintenance centre will be built in Phuket's Thalang district.

In Chiang Mai, three LRT lines would be constructed with a total distance of 34.9 kilometres.

The 12.5km Red Line is planned to pass Nakornping Hospital, Chiang Mai government centre, Chiang Mai international airport, the provincial land transport office and Big C shopping centre in the Hang Dong area. The 12-station route is expected to cost 24.2 billion baht.

The 11.9km Blue Line will run from Chiang Mai Zoo to Don Chan district. The project, which consists of 13 stations, is estimated to cost 30.5 billion baht.

The 10.4km Green Line will start northeast of the city and head southward to Chiang Mai airport. The 10-station project will cost 25.5 billion baht.

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