200 ‘safer’ microbuses take to roads on Oct 1 to replace vans

Pichit: Changes being phased in

Nearly 200 passenger vans will be replaced by microbuses, starting on Sunday, under a government plan to curb traffic accidents.

Deputy Transport Minister Pichit Akrathit said the measure to replace vans with vehicles with a maximum of 20 passenger seats will first be implemented on routes between Bangkok and other provinces.

In October next year, vans operating in Bangkok and its outskirts; inter-provincial vans in upcountry provinces; and vans operating in local or particular areas, will be replaced.

Speaking about vans operators not ready to make the transition, Mr Pichit said the ministry was not forcing all van operators to change their vehicles immediately.

The measure was being imposed on van operators whose operating licences have just expired. They were required to replace their vans with microbuses first before registering with the Department of Land Transport (DLT) to obtain operating licences.

Mr Pichit said it took the DLT around three months to prepare measures for replacing vans. The department had also worked with the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation to provide loans for van operators needing funds to purchase microbuses.

The department also discussed with private transport companies about purchasing decommissioned vans which could be used for taking goods instead, Mr Pichit said.

Meanwhile, DLT director-general Sanit Promwong said most, if not all passenger vans will be replaced by mini-buses by 2022. That’s because most operators would have had to renew their operators’ licences by then, he said.

Aside from public safety, Mr Sanit said the van replacement measure also aims to standardise the country’s public transport services for the sake of commuters.

Van drivers who fail to comply with the measure will face a fine of 5,000 baht while van owners will also be fined up to 50,000 baht, he said.

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