Thailand’s main public operator of public transit buses within the Greater Bangkok area, Mass Rapid Transport Authority (MRTA), announced that free Wi-Fi will be made available to passengers on 1,500 air-conditioned buses. This will take effect from October 1 onwards, acting director Nares Bunpiam said yesterday.
The buses providing the service will be the orange ones dubbed Euro2. Still in its early stages of planning, Nares said the bus numbers had not yet been designated. Similarly, it is also not yet decided how the connection password would be distributed among passengers.
As part of the restructuring and bus service improvement, commuters will be able to board some 3,000 newly purchased buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) early next year. These buses will run new routes and sport new colours as well as a new MRTA logo.
Thailand is the second country in ASEAN to announce plans to equip public buses with Wi-Fi access, the first being Vietnam.
Sometime in August last year, Vietnam’s Department of Transport announced that it will equip Wi-Fi on its public buses to attract more passengers, A proposal by the Ho Chi Minh City Transport Cooperatives Association has been approved and wireless connection on a bus route has been successfully tested.
A survey and study was done, which showed that in Vietnam’s business capital of Ho Chi Minh City, public buses were used by only 1.4 per cent of commuters.
Many Vietnamese passengers expressed satisfaction with the announcement of Wi-Fi enabled public buses, saying it allowed them to read the news, search for directions, and do other things during the trip.
The Ho Chi Minh City Transport Cooperatives Association will cooperate with telecom companies, which will provide the Internet connection in return for advertising in vehicles. In the long run, the Department of Transport is planning to spend US$94.65 million up until 2015 to buy 1,680 more new buses.
The buses in Singapore could use Wi-Fi services as well. But unlike other ASEAN countries where there are cheap and viable alternatives to public transportation plus the lack of competition in the public bus transportation arena, has seen Singapore Bus Services Ltd, SBS Transit, dragging their heels to keep up with new technology implementation in the region.
However, there is still good news for Singapore, as its extensive Mass Transit (MRT) may be upgraded instead. The nation’s sixth rail line will start at Woodlands before heading towards the East Coast, and will have 31 stations spanning about 43km. These new stations include Marine Parade, Siglap, and Tanjong Rhu.
The announcement was made by Transport Minister, Lui Tuck Yew earlier this year on Aug 15, 2014, noting that all 31 stations will be fully operational by 2024. As part of the Smart Nation Plan in Singapore, a small handful of bus stops and MRT stations are also sporting new Wi-fi HotSpots! Public transportation users can look forward to free Wi-Fi services in all existing and new stations.