Transport services hit hard by outbreak

Transport services hit hard by outbreak

Skytrain commuters have their hands sanitised at Mor Chit BTS station as part of the prevention measures against the spread of Covid-19. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Skytrain commuters have their hands sanitised at Mor Chit BTS station as part of the prevention measures against the spread of Covid-19. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Passenger numbers on all modes of transport have dropped by 40 to 70% due to the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, which has in turn led to a significant drop in revenue for Bangkok operators.

Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) director Surachai Iamwachirasakul said that the number of city bus passengers has declined by 200,000 a day to 600,000 in the wake of the latest outbreak.

During the first outbreak early last year, the number came down from 1 million to 800,000 a day, he said.

As a result, the BMTA's revenue has fallen from 10 million baht a day to six to seven million baht, Mr Surachai added.

Many passengers are not using BMTA bus services as they are working from home, while schools have also closed.

Many have also avoided travel during weekends and at night during the outbreak, he said.

Bus service frequencies on some routes with declining passenger numbers have also been cut by 40%, Mr Surachai said.

However, the BMTA has continued to ensure there are enough buses on each route to prevent overcrowding, he added.

Sorapong Paithoonpong, deputy permanent secretary for transport who chairs the state-run Transport Company, said the number of passengers on its buses has dropped by 60-70%, from 80,000 to 30,000 or less a day.

Kruawan Wongrukmit, chief executive of Nakhonchai Air, an inter-provincial bus company, said the number of bus passengers using its services has plummeted due to the latest outbreak and the frequency of bus services was 15% less than normal.

Even though bus service frequency has dropped and the company has had to shoulder the financial burden, it cannot lay off workers. Ms Kruawan said this is because drivers and bus personnel are skilled employees who would be hard to replace once the situation returns to normal.

Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas said that the number of passengers on the MRTA's electric rail system has fallen by nearly 50%.

There were usually about 400,000 passengers a day using the MRT Blue Line, but now the number has been reduced almost by half, while the daily number of passengers using the Purple Line has dropped from between 40,000-50,000 to 20,000, Mr Pakapong said.

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