First batch of air-conditioned NGV buses arrives
The government has welcomed the delivery of the first batch of natural gas vehicle (NGV) air-conditioned buses after a lengthy procurement process of 14 years.
Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the first lot of 100 buses procured by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) have arrived at Laem Chabang port and the remaining 389 will be delivered by Dec 29.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is happy that the bus procurement process, which was initiated in 2002, has been completed, with the first batch ready to start operating on Dec 21, he said.
Lt Gen Sansern said the bus purchase plans did not originally come through due to scepticism about the transparency of the procurement process but the military government saw to it that the process was transparent and endorsed the BMTA's contract signing for the procurement of 489 NGV buses with Bestlin Group worth 3.3 billion baht.
He said the new buses are intended as a New Year gift to commuters and hoped to enhance the quality of life and ensure the safety of the public, especially low-income earners. The fleet is also expected to attract more people to use public transport.
The BMTA said the new buses come with wheelchair access, CCTV cameras to monitor drivers' behaviour and automatic doors with sensors. They will be installed with GPS and WiFi.
Lt Gen Sansern said five of them will be used to facilitate people travelling around Sanam Luang and the rest will provide services on 22 other routes in Bangkok.
A test run will be conducted by the Transport Ministry before the buses are put into commercial service, he added.
He said Gen Prayut has also instructed relevant agencies to come up with measures to support the production of electric vehicles in line with the cabinet resolution. In August the cabinet agreed to promote EV production.
The 489 NGV buses are part of the plan to replace the ageing fleet. The Transport Ministry is scheduled to ask the cabinet to approve its purchase of 200 electric buses.