Unwanted buses to continue service

Unwanted buses to continue service

The BMTA's decommissioned buses will be repaired and return to the streets as its natural gas bus project has been scrapped. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
The BMTA's decommissioned buses will be repaired and return to the streets as its natural gas bus project has been scrapped. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) has scrapped a plan to sell 2,860 old buses and will repair them instead to extend their service life, as the Transport Ministry has rejected its proposal to buy 2,694 new gas-fuelled buses.

Ministry officials on Friday said that buying a large number of natural gas-fuelled buses was not practical at this time. The main reason is that pipelines and refilling stations for natural gas vehicles are limited.

Soithip Traisuddhi, the ministry's permanent secretary, said the BMTA should cancel its plan to sell 2,860 old buses and have them repaired. Meanwhile, the BMTA will look at the possibility of buying electric buses as proposed by Transport Minister Prajin Juntong, she said.

Earlier she said that the BMTA should continue to use its old but repaired buses while waiting for the prices of electric buses to fall to an affordable level. Electric buses would cut the energy costs of the state enterprise.

The 2,860 old buses have been in use for between 14 and 24 years and the BMTA had been planning to sell all of them over the next 10 years.

Mrs Soithip also said that the ministry had no problem with an earlier, more modest BMTA plan to buy 489 natural gas buses and sell 628 old ones that could not be repaired anymore and would be sold for scrap.

BMTA acting director Pranee Sukrasorn said the agency would find contractors to repair the old buses.

"The repair of the old buses will start in October and about seven repaired buses will be redeployed per month," she said.

Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj, meanwhile, said that the gas-fuelled bus procurement project could be replaced with the purchase of 500 to 1,000 electric buses.

Thailand had high capability in automotive assembly but would need to do more research on batteries and motors before it would be able to make electric vehicles locally, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Yuthavong said the government wanted Thailand to become a production base for electric vehicles because it had high demand for buses and general automobiles.


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