BMTA Admits Bus Shortages Affect Transit Service, Vows To Address Issues

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) revealed that its public bus service had seen critical vehicle shortages on nearly 27 routes, affecting nearly 90% of commuters.

BMTA director Kittikan Chomdoung Charuworapolkul said the BTMA had 2,885 buses in total. However, not all vehicles are in good working order, and most have been in service for five to 25 years.

Moreover, older buses are often out of service for repairs, he stated, adding that the pandemic has also affected the sector.

According to Mr. Kittikan, the BMTA served 800,000-900,000 passengers per day on trips totaling 19,000 every 24 hours. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the agency to make route and schedule changes.

It also had strict disease control measures, such as limiting the number of passengers allowed on each bus.

In the last two years, the BMTA has logged only 200,000 passengers per day, compared to 400,000 before, with total trips reduced to 17,000 per day as well.

After Thailand reopened and the government lifted the strictest measures against Covid-19, the number of daily passengers increased to 700,000 and daily commuters to 19,000. However, complaints continue to be filed about the city’s public bus service quality.

The BMTA assessments found problems caused by a shortage of buses, bus drivers, and fare collectors. Numerous complaints about service hours mismanagement have also been received.

Mr. Kittikan cited additional agency research to reveal that critical service shortages had been reported on 27 out of 107 routes, which accounts for 25% of total services.

However, the BTMA is committed to improving bus service and has announced that it would reschedule service times for those problematic routes, especially during the evening hours.

While budget constraints make it impossible to buy new buses, the agency will add more vehicles on certain overcrowded routes, he went on.

Separate surveys have also shown problems in the capital’s transit system. The Bangkok Poll, conducted by Bangkok University from June 17-21, showed that most residents had experienced difficulties with the public bus service.

Approximately 89.1% of the respondents said they had to wait a long time at the bus stop, while 44.4% percent reported that buses were full and occasionally impossible to board. Also, 35.5% of those surveyed stated that the buses were dirty, old, and in poor condition.

The bus shortage has affected the daily activities of 77.4% of respondents, who said they are often late for work or school due to the critical transportation situation, and 61.4% needed to use an alternative means of transportation.