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Hitch with ‘free’ fares as stations lack welfare-card readers

Nov 01. 2017
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By The Nation

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As universal free bus and train services ended on Wednesday, many residents in Si Sa Ket complained that they could not use their state welfare cards at smaller train stations.

They said those stations had not been equipped with the electronic data capture readers needed to scan the cards.

The welfare cards have been introduced to allow poor people to make subsidised trips on government buses and trains.

At Ban Nong Khaen Train Station in Uthumphon Phisai district’s Tambon Nong Hang, as many as 100 farmers from nearby villages have brought produce to sell on trains and at stations along the route everyday for the past 20 years.

They said the universal free train service has been a great help in the past few years.

“But now we have to buy tickets worth about Bt80 to Bt100 for a round trip, plus a fee to transport goods every day,” a farmer said, adding that people with state welfare cards could not use them to buy tickets at the small station.

Other farmers said they had considered finding new ways of making their living, because they could only earn Bt400 to Bt500 a day selling vegetables, which made the transport fee insupportable.

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