EV buses replace old banger No.8s

EV buses replace old banger No.8s

A No.8 bus hits a roadside in Bangkok in February in 2018. (Photo: Ruamkatanyu Foundation)
A No.8 bus hits a roadside in Bangkok in February in 2018. (Photo: Ruamkatanyu Foundation)

City commuters will soon bid goodbye to No.8 public buses -- dubbed "Fast and Furious" for the way they are often driven -- which will be replaced by a fleet of electric air-conditioned vehicles later this year.

The hot (non-air-conditioned) buses are being phased out as they do not meet standards set under the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority's (BMTA) bus service reform plan.

According to Bangkokbusclub.com, they will be redesignated as No.2-38.

Bidding was held to find an operator for the 20-kilometre route which runs from Memorial Bridge (Saphan Phut) in the heart of Bangkok to Happyland Market in Bang Kapi district.

Thai Smile Bus was selected to provide the service for seven years and the company will introduce a fleet of air-conditioned electric vehicles on the route.

Thiraporn Methisariyapong, bus operations manager of Thai Bus Transport, one of three firms contracted to operate the old No.8 service, said there was not much the operator could do.

She said the firm ran up losses of up to 30 million baht during the lockdown and is now forced to shut down. The vehicles will be disassembled and the parts sold once the service ends.

Sawitree Siharat, 41, a supervisor at the No.8 bus depot, said all "hot" buses will be withdrawn, not just those on the No.8 route, under the BMTA's bus operation plan.

She said she was upset when she heard the news. Many staff, including bus drivers, are too old to start a new job, she said.

Bus operators plan to submit a petition with the Administrative Court over the BMTA's bus reform plan.

But the plan is likely to be welcomed by passengers after many complained of speeding and collisions on several routes run by private operators granted concessions from the agency, including the notorious No.8 route.

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