BMTA to hire firms to run E-bus fleet

BMTA to hire firms to run E-bus fleet

No more long waits for rides: Saksayam

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) will hire private firms to operate 224 electric buses in order to boost capacity so it can serve up to one million passengers per day.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Tuesday the BMTA has faced a problem of bus shortages, resulting in commuters having to endure long waits, especially at night. The matter was seen as being in need of urgent resolution, as the organisation waits for the State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo) and the cabinet to approve its rehabilitation plan.

Mr Saksayam said the BMTA does not have enough budget to buy new buses to improve its service but it can ask its board to approve funding from its own revenue sources to hire private firms to operate the electric buses.

Hiring companies to operate an electric bus fleet can plug the gaps in the timetabled services for commuters quickly while also reducing air pollution throughout the city in the long run, he said.

Sorapong Paitoonphong, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Transport, said there are now 2,885 public buses operating on 107 routes, serving 17,000 trips per day. The BMTA will ramp up the frequency to 19,000 trips a day, he said.

He said the number of passengers has also climbed in response to rising fuel prices, jumping 17.8% from 600,000 to 707,000 people per day. The number of users of rapid mass-transit services including skytrains and underground trains has also shot up 20% from around a million per day to 1.2 million, he added.

Due to the increase in demand, the BMTA calculates that it will need to add 224 electric buses, Mr Sorapong said.

It will be an outsourcing service and the contract will run for two years, he said, adding that the first lot of 90 buses will start operating from around November. They will service some major routes including bus routes that pass by the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre and Bang Sue Grand Station.

Mr Sorapong said when the electric and regular bus services are combined, the BMTA will be able to serve up to one million commuters and 25,000 trips per day.

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