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Unprecedented Turnaround: Bangkok’s Transit System Proposes Drastic Overhaul – The Billion Baht Gamble To Turn Green And Bankrupt PM2.5!

The proposal focuses on a significant minimization of the current expenditures of the organization, especially on aspects such as maintenance and fuel for the 2,885 buses under its management. There’s a clear intent to cut financial losses by approximately 60%, reducing the current 12.5 billion Baht per annum expenditure, a significant factor contributing to the financial drain of the authority. With revenues last year totalling around 7.8 billion Baht, the initiative seems prudent as it targets to remove the existent 4.7 billion Baht deficit.

Manaporn paints a bright future with electric buses, with their lower maintenance and operational costs compared to vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. Notably, the move is also environmentally minded, with an eye on helping the city battle against the ongoing PM2.5 air pollution issue. PM2.5 entails dust particles of a minimal 2.5 micrometres diameter or smaller, which can be easily inhaled, and prolonged exposure has demonstrated connections to a variety of chronic conditions like acute lung and heart diseases. Traffic emissions, which include those from the public buses, are one of the largest contributors to PM2.5 pollution.

The strategy is chalked out into three distinct phases over a period between three and five years. The initial phase, substantial but measured, sees the procurement of 224 electric buses at a cost of 341 million Baht. This paves the way for the second phase, which involves further acquisition of 1,020 modern buses at a cost of 1.94 billion Baht. The climactic final phase showcases the procurement of a further 769 electric buses, priced at an estimated total cost of 3.2 billion Baht.

Interestingly, Manaporn noted the potential for leasing as a key part of the strategy. Some of these eco-friendly buses would be leased instead of purchased outright. This approach could effectively nullify the maintenance costs for the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), presenting a clever approach to achieving cost-efficiency.

To ensure a realistic and effective transition, the BMTA has given itself a deadline of six months to finalize the plan. This aligns fittingly with the formation of a new BMTA board, which will be primed to assess the ambitious proposal once it is complete, according to Manaporn.

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