Thai PM sparks a brighter future: Electric mass transit pledge to zap pollution in Chiang Mai

Thai PM Srettha Thavisin examines an electric songtaew in Chiang Mai on Thursday, January 11. Picture courtesy of Pattarayut Fakpol.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin pledged to foster the development of electric mass transit systems as a solution to the persistent air pollution issues plaguing the northern province. 61 year old Thai prime minister noted that the fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) levels had considerably decreased since his last visit on November 28 of the previous year.

The air quality has indeed improved since April of the previous year when the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) detected 302 hotspots, thereby escalating the situation to a critical level. The air pollution problem has adversely affected tourism in Chiang Mai, deterring both local and international tourists due to potential health risks.

PM Srettha noted that to tackle these issues, the government and local authorities have initiated short to long-term plans. A significant component of these initiatives is the Transport Ministry’s plan to enhance the province’s mass transportation system, which would not only alleviate the PM2.5 levels caused by traffic congestion but also provide convenience for tourists, said the Thai prime minister.

“Chiang Mai is a major city that is yet to have a rapid mass transit system. The introduction of a monorail service would not only benefit local commuters but also contribute to the economic growth.”

Related news

Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, during the visit, proposed several developmental projects for the province’s transportation system. These included replacing the existing mass transport service known as songthaew daeng in Thai, with electric vehicles (EVs).

Additionally, an outer ring road connecting Chiang Mai Airport to popular tourist spots in the city was proposed. This approximately 53 kilometres long route intends to alleviate city congestion. Plans to construct a second Chiang Mai airport, Lanna Airport, on an 8,000-rai site in the San Kamphaeng district of Chiang Mai and Ban Thi district in neighbouring Lamphun province are also underway.

Tourist bus service

Furthermore, a tourist bus service to seven popular sites, including a night safari, Royal Park Rajapruek and Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, is expected to be introduced. The Land Transport Department is set to identify tour bus operators for this service.

The Bangkok-born PM expressed his support for these projects after his visit to Chiang Mai concluded yesterday.

“It’s a well-planned policy. I am confident that it can enhance the public transportation service, which will in turn benefit the province’s tourism sector.”

The Thai PM also expressed his intention to discuss with the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet ways to reduce PM2.5 levels caused by burning farmland. Meanwhile, GISTDA reported yesterday morning that ten provinces were grappling with red-coded (seriously harmful) pollution levels.

Chiang Mai NewsEnvironment NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

Related Articles