Private bus operators oppose Bangkok governor candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen's policy to expand the city's free bus services, saying jobs will be put at risk.
Hoponyour bike instead
Bangkok governor candidate Kosit Suvinijjit rides a bicycle with his daughter Nitchayada as he campaigns for votes at Rot Fai Park in Chatuchak district yesterday. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL
Pol Gen Pongsapat, who is running in the March 3 election for the Pheu Thai Party, has proposed extending the existing free bus scheme to encompass all state-run services bar air-conditioned buses.
But Witthaya Premjit, head of the association of private bus operators in Bangkok, says such a move would be disastrous for businesses running paid-for bus services.
He said the policy would apply to all 1,600 non-aircon buses run by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA).
The BMTA has 800 free buses operating daily on 73 routes, which has cut into the incomes of private bus operators, Mr Witthaya said.
He fears extending the free services would drive most private operators out of business as commuters would have no reason to pay to travel. Mr Witthaya said the government does not allow private bus operators to increase fares, despite rising costs, and yet the BMTA is subsidised by the Finance Ministry.
He said it was wrong for Pol Gen Pongsapat to pledge the free routes scheme because bus services are controlled by the Transport Ministry, not the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), which the city governor heads.
Meanwhile, Democrat Party election centre director and list-MP Ong-art Klampaibul said yesterday the policies of Democrat governor candidate Sukhumbhand Paribatra will be practical rather than overblown, unlike those of Mr Pongsapat.
He said MR Sukhumbhand has a realistic and down-to-earth approach to running the capital and is committed to working for the good of Bangkok.
Pol Gen Pongsapat campaigned yesterday at Wat Saket on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue.
He promised to revive a BMA project to build trams for tourists to view attractions and landmarks in and around historic Rattanakosin Island.
He also pledged to restore commercial areas in Yaowarat and to improve the Bo Bae wholesale clothing market.
He said if he is elected governor, he will set a budget of 10 billion baht to improve the water quality of Phadung Krung Kasem canal near the market and to ensure better drainage to the sea.
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Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook & Manop Thip-Osod