Bangkokians can breathe easier at the news that all the old non-aircon buses will be off the streets in three years.
The buses are almost three decades’ old and belch a daily cloud of poisonous fumes that coats city-dwellers’ lungs and brings long-term health problems.
The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) has opted to replace the non-aircon buses with a fleet of new gas-powered vehicles (NGV). In doing so it appears to have ignored the latest technology – non-polluting electric buses that run on renewable energy.
Electric buses’ numerous advantages include lowering the impact of fluctuating fuel prices, reducing pollution and providing a safe service.
They would be more expensive than NGV buses in the short term, but offer a long-term “clean” transport solution that would eventually pay for itself.
Thailand already has experience in developing electric buses. Chulalongkorn University has been operating its electric CU Pop Bus service for over a decade, while private transport firms are testing imported electric buses on various routes, and other Thai universities are researching and developing electric vehicles.
Thailand could exploit that development experience by aiming to manufacture electric buses on an industrial scale. The market is already huge and growing. China, for example, has already replaced 17 per cent of its total fleet with electric buses. Thailand could be well placed to cash in on this trend.