Route reboot: Transport Ministry’s bus number shuffle leaves Bangkok commuters in chaos

Photo courtesy of 12Go Asia

The Transport Ministry announced a major overhaul of new bus route numbers, leaving commuters in disarray. Amidst the chaos, the ministry stands firm on its decision, sparking a wave of criticism from disgruntled passengers.

Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit revealed today that he instructed the Land Transport Department to make modifications to all new route numbers, eliminating the dash between zone and route numbers. The move aims to address the confusion that has plagued travellers since the recent changes to buses serving Greater Bangkok, part of a broader effort to reform the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA).

The controversial alteration, implemented this month, irked commuters, with bus No.59 now transformed into the perplexing 1-8, adding the first number to represent the service zone and incorporating the letter E for expressway routes. Critics argue that the adjustment, based on a 2017 study by the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), has failed to consider the practical implications for daily passengers.

Despite mounting passenger complaints and criticism from the House Committee on economic development, Suriya remains resolute in his commitment to the project. He acknowledged the confusion caused by the dash and announced plans to drop it from the new route numbers while retaining the old bus routes for clarity. The specifics of when this change will take effect remain undisclosed.

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Frustrated passengers have taken to social media, expressing their discontent on the BMTA Facebook page. Criticisms include a lack of effective public relations campaigns to inform commuters about the changes.

“You have never told passengers about the change, leaving that burden to drivers and conductors to tell passengers.”

Amidst the backlash, the House Committee on economic development slammed the change, demanding the department abandon the idea. Move Forward Party MP for Bangkok, Suphanat Minchaiynunt, and committee member, declared on January 25 that the new bus routes have shown that those who came up with the idea have never used the bus, reported Bangkok Post.

Even the BMTA labour union has staunchly opposed the route number changes, stating on January 5, the first day of the new numbers, urging the transport minister and related agencies to revert to the old bus numbers.

“The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority State Enterprise Workers Union has never supported the routing reform, which designates new bus numbers, including English letters, because it will make people confused.”

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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