City folk perplexed by new bus routes

City folk perplexed by new bus routes

A city bus is seen with a new number and colour scheme during a one-month trial period, which started yesterday, as part of a reform plan. The buses are to ply eight pilot routes in four zones of the capital and its outskirts. (Photo by Worrapon Phayakum)
A city bus is seen with a new number and colour scheme during a one-month trial period, which started yesterday, as part of a reform plan. The buses are to ply eight pilot routes in four zones of the capital and its outskirts. (Photo by Worrapon Phayakum)

Eight new city bus routes introduced by the Department of Land Transport (DLT) last week where the fronts of the vehicles have been painted in a bewildering range of different colours had trial runs yesterday, to the confusion and inconvenience of many passengers.

Five non air-conditioned buses were sent on each route, each running from 6.30am to 6.30pm daily, and to gauge passengers' reactions to the rerouting and new numbering and colour system. They plied the routes in addition to normal buses.

Only a small number of passengers took the trial-run buses, with most opting instead to wait for the buses they were familiar with.

The testing of the new routes will continue until Sept 15 this year.

Since the test buses are not air-conditioned, the price per ticket is just 6.50 baht for the whole route. The same rate applies for new bus routes that go via expressways.

Passengers taking the new routes yesterday were heard discussing the matter among themselves and with bus ticket vendors.

Mr New, a 20-year-old freelance worker, said most commuters are still confused about the rerouting.

"Without the previous bus number displayed on the front of the vehicle, it could get impossibly confusing," he said.

A student taking the bus G59E, a modified route of air-conditioned bus number 514 at around 4pm, said she had to wait around an hour for it to arrive, as opposed to 20 minutes on average for the 514 bus which plies the route from Min Buri to the Si Phraya express boat pier.

DLT chief Sanith Phromwong said the DLT has set up a separate Facebook page called "Bus Reroute BKK", where the public can give feedback.

He said the comments so far have been mostly negative, with most being about the poor quality of the buses used in the testing.

"The public must understand that this is a development project for the whole system, not just the buses themselves," he said. "Throughout this two-year period, we encourage everyone to voice their opinions so that we can improve the overall quality of the reforms."

In a separate development, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also said yesterday that he has instructed the DLT to begin using natural gas for vehicle (NGV) buses this year, as a "New Year's gift for the public".

The auction of 489 new NGV buses has been delayed indefinitely after the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority revoked a 3.3-billion-baht contract for the buses with bus provider Bestlin Group on April 12. BMTA director Somsak Hommuang said Bestlin had to be fined for delivering the buses late.

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