Electric bus service expected by end of the year

Electric bus service expected by end of the year

The Transport Ministry is confident the cabinet will approve its plan to buy 200 electric vehicles for 3.3 billion baht and have them ready for service by the end of the year.

Deputy Transport Minister Pichit Akrathit said on Friday the purchase plan had been submitted to the cabinet which should make a decision next month.

That would allow the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority to begin operating the electric bus service later this year.

Mr Pichit also provided an update on the progress of the ministry's efforts to regulate the public van service.

In the short term, he said, the ministry requires all public van operators to install a global positioning system service by March 31. Later on, the ministry aims to replace public vans with minibuses.

For the long-term plan, the ministry will rearrange the minibus service routes to provide incentives for more van operators to switch over to the larger vehicles, he said.

The vans have an accident rate that is five times higher than that of the minibuses, according to Mr Pichit.

The ministry expects to wrap up talks soon with the operators and state agencies on rearranging the routes for the minibuses within a 300-kilometre radius of Bangkok.

New routes will be added for the minibus service, in addition to the ones currently operated by Transport Co, he said.

Meanwhile, tests on hybrid buses produced by Hino Motors Sales (Thailand) Co for public transport showed the vehicles use half of the energy of buses run on diesel.

Mr Pichit said the hybrid bus test had been completed on 10 BMTA bus routes over 42,300 kilometres. The five-month test began on June 16 and ended on Nov 15.

The hybrid engine was also found to emit about half of the carbon dioxide of a diesel engine.

Since the test was only intended to gauge the difference between a hybrid bus and a diesel one from the public transport service, the findings will be used as additional information for the BMTA. Mr Pichit said he did not know if the BMTA will consider replacing its buses run on natural gas with the hybrid vehicles.

The BMTA is still struggling to deal with problems surrounding the 489 NGV buses.

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