Travel news - destinations in north Thailand

Chiang Mai buses this month: mayor

The long-awaited municipal bus service will finally be launched this month in response to demand from residents, Chiang Mai mayor Boonlert Buranuprakorn has promised.

The service is ready to go now that the Provincial Transport Control Committee has given its consent to the concessionaire of the municipal buses to operate three city routes.

But the Lanna Transport Cooperative - the monopoly that oversees more than 3,000 red song taew in town - is digging in its heels to stop the service from being launched. It plans to petition Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra and ask him to overturn the approval of the concession.

For several months now, the cooperative has been protesting against the operation of 26 municipal buses, claiming that they would eat into its profits and affect the operators of the song taew and their families.

With no end in sight for the row, local residents and the private sector joined together to call for the governor to resolve the conflict and push for the buses to be in service as soon as possible.

The Provincial Transport Control Committee is not biased against the cooperative's service, but realised that municipal buses would be effective and beneficial for the city's residents, said Autsathai Rattanadilok Na Phuket, head of the Chiang Mai Land Transport Office.

The remaining six routes would still be available for the cooperative to operate. But the committee will require the song taew drivers to standardise their services and always keep their fees less than Bt12 before requesting the concession for the six routes in the next 60 days, Autsathai said.

Mayor Boonlert said the start date for the municipal bus service would be established after he meets Thaksin this weekend.

Atsadaporn Kamthai CHIANG MAI
Nation 12 June 2005


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