Govt pushes ahead with microbus bid
The Transport Ministry will urge financial institutions to offer loans to local vehicle manufacturers enabling them to produce microbuses to replace existing passenger vans.
Speaking after a meeting with local microbus producers, transport deputy permanent secretary Somsak Hommuang said the ministry is preparing a proposal on production costs of the vehicles.
The proposal will go to financial institutions which wish to support the van-to-microbus programme initiated by the ministry.
The ministry plans to talk to Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation, commercial banks and other financial institutions which could give a loan to operators who want to provide public microbus services, said Mr Somsak, who also serves as acting director of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority(BMTA).
The BMTA is revamping its public transport services, replacing about 5,000 vans with microbuses in an attempt to improve road safety.
The replacement drive is expected to be completed by 2022 which is when 70% of the permits granted to passenger van operators expire. By then the operators who wish to continue the service will be required by the BMTA, which grants concessions, to switch their vehicle to 20-seater microbuses.
Mr Somsak said microbus producers had proposed different production costs ranging from 1.7-2.2 million baht for a 20-seat vehicle. Five car-making companies which attended the meeting and made the proposals were Hino, MG, Bestlin Group, Thairung Co and Ban Pong Automotive Body Parts Co.
Microbuses with Japanese engines could be more expensive than those which are imported from China but they could have different lifespan and different maintenance requirements, Mr Somsak said, quoting the companies' representatives.
The representatives confirmed they would be able to produce microbuses this year if it wins a contract to supply cars to BMTA. The BMTA plans to fully commence the microbus service in the next two years.