6 June 2024

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wants to upgrade Bangkok’s bus services by allowing the private sector to operate some routes of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, the city bus operator, with vehicles that use clean energy to reduce air pollution and improve services.

Government Spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said today (Tuesday) that the involvement of private sector in operating some bus routes, tentative scheduled for August, especially those going through the inner city and commercial areas, is part of a plan to rehabilitate the BMTA’s services, which currently rely on many old buses.

The Land Transport Department has been assigned to assess the performance of any private sector service providers who may be interested in operating city bus services, using 12 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as the benchmark for assessment, said Thanakorn.

Some of the criteria include financial stability, new clean energy bus fleets, depots for bus parking and garages for maintenance. Each bus is also required to be equipped with GPS, CCTV and E-ticketing devices, which will collect information about the number of commuters using the service, to be used for assessment and improvement of the service.

Thanakorn said that the government also wants low income-earners to have access, through the extension of state welfare cards to cover bus services.

He also said the government is considering the introduction of day tickets, which would enable commuters to use the same ticket for unlimited trips on all bus routes for a day, facilitate travel and save costs.

The new bus services will gradually replace non-air conditioned vehicles and will enable low income-earners to travel more comfortably, said Thanakorn.

The move is part of a push towards rehabilitation of the loss-ridden state agency. By 2020, the BMTA had accumulated a huge debt from 43 years of service, amounting to about 127 billion baht.