Start of a new generation of city bus stops
Shelters to be hubs for transport advice
Bus stops in Bangkok are going through more than just a facelift as they become more more than just shelters over commuters' heads in the age of the digital revolution.
On Thursday, the first revamped bus stop outside the Central Rama IX department store will be unveiled after a transformation that promises to deliver better information and services to commuters.
It will be equipped with a large display panel flashing information about oncoming buses, when they are arriving and how commuters are able to connect with the subway or shuttle boats.
Commuters do not have to be physically at the stops or read the bus timetables. They have at their disposal an app which can be downloaded on their mobile phones to check timetables with the swipe of a screen.
"The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has compiled a list of the issues and public transport inconveniences which people encounter on their daily commutes, which is how the digitalised bus stop idea came about," said Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, a BMA spokesman.
"Most commuters said they were troubled by safety, limited seating area, inadequate cover from the rain and sun and the absence of bus information displays at the city bus stops," he added.
The work on the bus stop upgrade was assigned to the BMA's Traffic and Transport Department which selected 350 of the more than 3,000 bus stops across Bangkok for the change.
The stop at the Central Rama IX department store will be the first of the 350 spots to be completed under the scheme, the spokesman said.
The busiest stops are the first batch to be chosen for the upgrade. They are located mostly in commercial districts and close to communities, education providers and interchanges linked to electric train stations and ferry piers.
It was a project jointly developed with a private contractor. The BMA hands over the bus stops for the company to carry out the upgrade involving the installation of devices and equipment.
Mr Pongsakorn said 100 stops will carry a full complement of functions while the rest will feature light functions.
With full functions, the stops are fitted with a 55-inch display screen with BMA news such as Covid-19 pandemic updates, useful bus routes and inter-mode public transport. The stops, with surveillance cameras positioned over them, also have a 32-inch screen showing routes of oncoming buses and their arrival times. A Wi-Fi connection and phone charging outlets are also available.
The light-function stops are loaded with similar features, minus the 55-inch screen and Wi-Fi.
The Plan B company won the concession to put together the upgrade at the 350 stops. Upon completion of the project, the firm will enjoy the right to derive income over a span of 10 years from running advertisements in the spaces available at the stops. After the concession expires, the equipment and devices will be handed over to the BMA. Plan B faces a deadline to finish work on the 350 bus stops by April next year.
Mr Pongsakorn said after the 350 stops are upgraded, more will follow.