At the first Thai-Lao SMMR Meeting, the officials of both sides agreed to work on developing the First Friendship Bridge further and position it as a sustainable transport hub which will connect Vientiane and Nong Khai.
On 5 August 2019, under the chairmanship of M. Boualith Pathoumthong, Deputy General Director of Transport, Ministry of Public Work and Transport and Mr Jirasak SRIKACHA, Deputy Governor of Nong Khai Province, and Ms Carolin Capone, Project Director of SMMR, the SMMR team presented the SMMR analysis for the metropolitan region.
Since the First Thai Lao Friendship Bridge was built in 1994, the transport volumes have risen continuously. The bridge, a symbol of Thai Lao Cooperation and the border crossing facilities reach their capacity limits. While the share of public transport on the bridge remains high, crossing the border with public transport imposes considerable hurdles for passengers. Most people change informal transport modes at both border crossings on either side of the bridge, a time consuming, uncomfortable and expensive procedure. Interchange-free buses are only provided eight times a day. Meanwhile, the new Kunming-Vientiane-Bangkok rail link, which will first reach Vientiane 2021 broad further momentum to the development of the area and also the existing railway which uses the current bridge.
For the future, a common border crossing facility and a transit-oriented intermodal hub may ease the interchanges and motivate people to switch from their individual vehicle to a sustainable transport mode for the remainder of the journey. Both sides agreed to enter a structured dialogue how such intermodal hub could be archived and to intensify the process on smoothened border crossing procedures.