Bus agency boosts trips over Songkran

Buses will make an additional 2,000 round trips from Bangkok to the provinces to meet an expected jump in traffic during the upcoming Songkran festival.

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Transport Co president Wutthichart Kalayanamitr yesterday said the state-run bus agency will boost the number of inter-provincial bus and van services from 5,000 to 7,000 round trips a day between April 11 and 17.

The extra bus and van services could serve about 200,000 Songkran revellers per day or 1.1-1.2 million passengers during the festival period, said Mr Wutthichart.

He expressed confidence that no passengers would be left stranded at bus terminals during the festival. Long-haul buses will pick up all passengers before 2am every day, while short-haul buses will operate around the clock.

Transport Co has worked with the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) to prepare 5-7 extra train services in case there are not enough buses to serve passengers.

Police will be called upon to manage traffic build-ups on both inbound and outbound routes before and during the festival.

All outbound public buses operated by Transport Co will try to use the tollways to beat the traffic, said Mr Wutthichart.

''The number of passengers using bus services during the festival this year is expected to be close to that of last year. Advanced bookings were sold out. The Transport Co will provide extra buses every day,'' said the Transport Co president.

He suggested Songkran passengers arrive at the Mor Chit bus terminal ahead of time as traffic will be heavy.

Passengers should buy tickets at Transport Co counters to avoid paying for overpriced tickets from unauthorised sellers. No tickets will be sold in advance for the extra buses.

People should alert bus operators if they come across overpriced tickets or are abandoned during the trip. Operators of the buses will be fined 10,000 baht each, face a service suspension or even have their operating licences revoked.

Mr Wutthichart said the political crisis and the economic slowdown could discourage some people from travelling to the provinces. If that happens, the agency's revenue could drop.

Deputy Transport Minister Prin Suvanadat said the Land Transport Department was working with car and motorcycle dealers to try and reduce road accidents during the Songkran festival.

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