By THE NATION
The ministry announced earlier this month that as part of a major revamp, bus services in Greater Bangkok – which refers to the capital and its adjacent provinces – would be radically changed to “improve quality and efficiency”.
But many passengers have expressed anger about the plan that will alter the city’s numbering system, which has been in existence for years, and eliminate some familiar bus routes.
For example, bus number 54 for the Huai Kwang-Victory Monument route will become “B44”, and the route will change to Rama IX-Suttisan.
Transport Ministry deputy permanent secretary Somsak Hommuang said “B” would stand for the Blue Zone, which would cover the old Bus Service Areas 7 and 8.
“Who cares about Bus Service Areas? Why should we remember them?” said one irate passenger on a Facebook page dedicated to Thailand’s bus system.
Another Facebook user said she wondered whether the planners behind the revamp had ever used the bus. “Did you know that for some people it takes years to remember the bus route numbers? Did you know that some people have to get on and off buses several times during their commuting routine in a day?” she said.
Jiraz Pipatwasin said via Facebook that English characters should not be included as bus identifiers as public transportation should be designed for everyone, not just people who understood English.
Ritthichan Sup said English characters could be confusing. “Why don’t you use four-digit numerals instead?” he suggested. On the same Facebook page, “CoOkaii Leepokpinyo” said elderly people might see a B as the number 8. “The use of only numerals should be fine, even for foreigners,” she said.
Consumers also pointed out that the majority of passengers were from the older generation, who would find the changes particularly difficult. Somsak said just four English characters would be used: G for green, R for red, Y for yellow and B for blue.
The B area would cover inner zones of Greater Bangkok and some of its northern parts, G eastern and northeastern parts, R southern and southeastern parts, and Y southern and western parts. He said the revamp would not be just about new bus route numbers.
“We will reduce the length of each bus route, with the average distance dropping from 31 kilometres to 28 kilometres. The shorter the route, the better the traffic flow,” Somsak said.
He added that people did not need to worry about unfamiliar bus route identifiers because the old numbers would be placed next to the new ones until passengers became used to the changes. “As well, we will not change the whole system immediately. We will introduce changes to eight routes first and assess the results.”