Bangkok bus drivers strike over onboard electronic ‘spy’
A rare strike by bus drivers and conductors on Friday morning caused hundreds of Bangkok commuters to be late for work or school.
Thai Smile Bus Co Ltd (TSB) blamed the strike on bus terminus officials’ failure to communicate the company’s new policy to keep buses in the far-left lane to ensure that all passengers are picked up from stops.
Buses affected included Nos 6, 75, and 82, according to passengers who complained on social media that the dispute had made them late for work or school. Numerous commuters were affected because no alternatives are available on these routes.
Bus services on the affected routes resumed at about 11am on Friday.
Bangkok bus drivers are notorious for taking right-hand lanes, shooting past passengers waiting at bus stops.
The TSB operates electric public buses on nine routes across the city under a contract signed with the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority.
“Employees failed to understand [the left-hand lane policy] correctly due to communication issues,” the company said in a statement issued on Friday. “Some groups [of employees] do not want to change for improved service. This caused buses on certain routes to be delayed, which affected passengers.”
The statement said the company promptly remedied the problem and bus services resumed shortly after.
TSB has adopted artificial intelligence technology that uses onboard devices to monitor bus drivers. The system records drivers who fail to drive in the far-left lane, exceed the legal speed limit, or ignore passengers at bus stops. Drivers who fail to meet these requirements are fined.
The onboard system uses closed-circuit cameras to record the driver’s actions and events in and around the bus. An alarm sounds if the driver fails to meet standards, such as by using a phone, smoking, or showing signs of sleepiness. The system also displays the bus’s location in real-time.