By The Nation
BMTA, which operates the city bus service, had late last year signed a contract to buy 489 NGV-powered buses from SCN-CHO, a consortium of Scan Inter Plc (SCN) and Cho Thavee Plc (CHO). The first batch of 100 buses was introduced by the BMTA on Monday. The rest of the fleet will be delivered by June.
The five routes on which the first 100 buses will run from Tuesday are: No 20 from Pom Phra Chulachomklao to Tha Din Daeng; No 21 from Wat Khu Srang-Chulalongkorn University; No 105 from Mahachai Muang Mai- Khlong San; No 138 from Phra Pha Daeng-Mo Chit 2; and No 140 from Samae Dam-Victory Monument.
The new NGV buses are low-decked types, 12 metres in length, with the capacity to seat 35 passengers.
The buses have been designed under universal design themes, which includes offering easier and safer travel for handicapped and elderly people. Among facilities provided are a big digital board showing the route, five CCTVs, and a folding car ramp for wheelchair users.
In the future, Wi-Fi, e-ticket readers that will support state welfare card holders, and a common ticket system or Mangmoom card that will allow commuters to travel with a single ticket, will be provided, BMTA deputy director Prayoon Chuaykaew, who is also acting director of BMTA, said.
The full NGV fleet comes at a cost Bt4.26 billion – Bt1.89 billion for the buses and Bt2.37 billion for 10 years of maintenance service. SCN-CHO was the sole bidder for the BMTA contract.
Bangkokians have waited for more than 10 years for the project to come to fruition.
After all the 489 NGV buses are delivered by June, the BMTA plans to buy 3,000 hybrid buses next year, Prayoon said.