Thai Smile Bus aims to widen its electric bus routes this year
Thai Smile Bus will nearly double the number of its electric buses as it aims to overtake the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) as the largest bus operator in the city this year, executives at the privately owned company said.
Thai Smile will expand its fleet of electric buses to 3,100 to cover a total of 122 routes this year, they said. It currently has 1,250 electric buses operating on 71 routes.
The BMTA, a loss-making state enterprise, had 119 public bus routes in Bangkok and its vicinity with a total of 2,885 vehicles and 12,671 employees as of August 31 last year.
Under a reform of bus routes, the Department of Land Transport granted permission to private operators to use electric vehicles on 77 new routes in the greater Bangkok metropolitan area. Thai Smile won the right to operate 71 of the routes while two other operators received permits for the remaining routes.
Thai Smile also supplied electric buses to other private bus operators on 45 of 53 routes that had used diesel-powered buses, the company said.
It is hiring more drivers and buying more buses to meet the Department of Land Transport’s goal of increasing the number of public buses by 1,850 this year, the company said.
In January, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the use of electric public buses was part of his ministry’s attempts to use clean energy for public transport. He made the comment during the launch of electric buses for new routes, at an event held under the theme “Change for the Better”.
He expressed his gratitude to Thai Smile Bus for supporting the government's effort to adopt clean energy for powering public transport in Bangkok. The switch to electric buses will help reduce air pollution and provide a cheaper transport alternative for commuters, he said.