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How Many More Victims Must Die On Thailand's Public Buses?

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EDITORIAL

How many more victims must die on public buses?

The Nation

BANGKOK: -- Dangerous driving, poor training, badly maintained vehicles and few safety checks; it's time for a complete overhaul of the road transport system

After seven years of fighting in court, the father of a girl who died in a bus accident in 2004 has sent a strong message to bus operators and relevant government agencies. Nam Chotmanas, whose daughter fell from a public bus, said that he hoped that his daughter did not die in vain. Those responsible should learn from the case and improve safety regulations for public transportation.

Unfortunately, the case is unlikely be the last of its kind.

Nam lost his daughter, Piyatida Chotmanas, a 21-year-old senior student at ABAC University, because of the bus driver's recklessness and carelessness. Piyatida fell from a No 207 bus on September 14, 2004. The court ruled that the driver was negligent because he failed to close the door of the vehicle, and the bus company had failed to fix it, despite the fact that doors on public buses are intended to provide safety for passengers. Piyatida fell out of the bus, hitting her head on the pavement on Ramkhamhaeng Road, and died 10 days later from severe brain trauma.

Earlier this week, Piyatida's family was awarded Bt9.8-million in compensation plus interest from the Supreme Court. But her father Nam said that the money was not the issue. He decided to pursue the case to remind society of the poor service provided by public bus operators, for the sake of the safety of future passengers.

Unfortunately, public bus services have hardly improved since the day that Piyatida passed away. "It has been seven years since the tragedy struck our family and we still hear about accidents involving public buses and passenger vans," Nam said.

In fact, it was reported that after the accident, the reckless driver in question was allowed to return to work, driving a public bus, until the case went to court.

Still, the bus driver and the bus company are not the only ones to blame for the accident. The current public bus system, which involves a lot of concessions, results in an inferior service at the expense of the safety of passengers. The companies that win concessions to operate public services on certain routes do not strive to improve services or carry out proper vehicle maintenance. In addition, the contracted bus drivers are not trained to be responsible for the lives of the people they are carrying. Those drivers that are paid per journey completed are also more likely to drive recklessly in order to earn more money. The evidence is the tragedy of Piyatida.

It is ironic that while most public bus services here are operated via concessions, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), which is responsible for issuing operating licenses, is still operating at a loss. The BMTA has to rely on subsidies. And it has not done a good job in supervising the bus operator to which it allocates concessions.

In addition, some concessions have been sub-contracted by profit-seeking transport operators. The operator at the lowest rung of the ladder therefore has to shoulder the burden of the sub-contracting fee as well as the normal operating costs such as fuel and maintenance. Some of these operators still try to cut the cost of the service to the passengers, thus affecting the final quality of service, including the standard of driver and condition of the vehicle. Consequently, millions of commuters' lives hang in the balance every day.

The Transport Ministry and other responsible agencies must take this issue seriously and start to overhaul the public bus service. This is not only to improve the quality and safety of public transportation, which is the state's duty, but also to encourage the public to use public transportation in order to maximise energy consumption.

Piyatida's premature death should serve as a powerful message about how human carelessness can result in tragedy. But the big question remains: Are we capable of heeding that message? Piyatida was a bright young student who was supposed to have a bright future ahead of her. She planned to continue her studies in Japan, and she was likely to have become a great credit to this country.

"On a personal note, the court victory is hardly a consolation," her father, Nam, said. "Imagine how I feel every time I am invited to a graduation or wedding party. I cannot help but think what might have happened if my daughter were still alive."

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-- The Nation 2012-03-10

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As a user of the buses along Ramkhamhaeng road, I concur that just closing the doors would go a long way to help safety.

My personal observations are the doors seem to stay open for several reasons:

Greater air flow (in the non-aircon buses). The buses do get very hot.

For quicker entry and exit to and from the bus.

The entry and exit from the bus can be a challenge. Many times the drivers don't see a need to bring the bus to a complete stop, preferring to go as slowly as they can, while you exit. Wearing flip flops on exit can be a challenge, made worse by a broken roadside or footpath. Make sure you have both hands free for support.

Entry can also be challenging; Step down from the gutter, grab hold of the slowly moving bus, hope that the driver doesn't accelerate too fast or change lanes at an acute angle. Front or back door just as challenging.

Some small changes and enforcement of keeping doors closed would go a long way to keeping people safe. This unfortunate girl in the article must be one of many that has been hurt or killed in this way over the years.

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I totally agree with this article , buses is Bangkok are as good as buses in some African countries , beside all those dead , accidents nothing has been done by any governments it seems BMTA is untouchable for some reasons. Its so easy to give money away without facing responsibilities and when profit is more important than public safety. Roads in Thailand are very dangerous , people have no idea how to react in accident situation, amount of death on road accidents is huge here involving buses , mini vans ( so far the worse) and normal cars. I have been driving 20 years without a scratch , oh but I been going for driving training .... that helps

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As a user of the buses along Ramkhamhaeng road, I concur that just closing the doors would go a long way to help safety.

My personal observations are the doors seem to stay open for several reasons:

Greater air flow (in the non-aircon buses). The buses do get very hot.

For quicker entry and exit to and from the bus.

The entry and exit from the bus can be a challenge. Many times the drivers don't see a need to bring the bus to a complete stop, preferring to go as slowly as they can, while you exit. Wearing flip flops on exit can be a challenge, made worse by a broken roadside or footpath. Make sure you have both hands free for support.

Entry can also be challenging; Step down from the gutter, grab hold of the slowly moving bus, hope that the driver doesn't accelerate too fast or change lanes at an acute angle. Front or back door just as challenging.

Some small changes and enforcement of keeping doors closed would go a long way to keeping people safe. This unfortunate girl in the article must be one of many that has been hurt or killed in this way over the years.

The whole system is flowed. Unsafe buss operation will continue As long as they driver make commission based on the number of passenger he carries. One time I saw 2 bus with the same number racing around the cars to go to station to get more of passengers without regard to the traffic around them

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Really you gets what you pay for.

In the Uk last year I paid £3.40 (190bt) for a 2k bus ride. In Bangkok, Ramkhamhaeng 2 district to Udon-Suk BTS about 6 or 7k I pay 7bt. For sure in the UK that bus and all the buses owned by this particular company would not be on the road and the doors are tied open.

jb1

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Safety First in Thailand...that's their motto...yes, it's true...just look at all the Safety First signs placed everywhere...but watch out, many of these Safety First signs are placed in such a way that they create a safety hazard.

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In answer to the headline. Just pick a number. I suggest at least 5 figures.

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Things do change but it takes time. Many years ago when I was young and riding around on public buses I often had one foot on the lower step and one hand on the outside door railing. At the stops you would put one foot on the ground but keep the other in place so as not to lose your spot. Even though people got scraped off the side of the bus occasionally, at the time I couldn’t imagine that one day there would be doors and they would be closed. Things are much safer than they used to be and in the future we will no doubt look back to now and say the same thing.

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It's not right to single out a particular bus company.

It's a cultural thing, not much sense of accountability or personal responsibility.

If there is an accident the driver runs away if he is able to, this is acceptable, says it all.

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In answer to the headline. Just pick a number. I suggest at least 5 figures.

I think 60-something million more victims will create much safer traffic on the roads here.

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Really you gets what you pay for.

In the Uk last year I paid £3.40 (190bt) for a 2k bus ride.

Thanks for that.

I'm off to UK for a holiday next month. Better take my hiking boots.....

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In answer to the headline. Just pick a number. I suggest at least 5 figures.

"Bus carrying foreign tourists from Chiang Mai bound for Khao San Rd hit toll booth on Asia Highway, 1 dead, 28 injured /TANN"

Well there's the first one.

We don't have to wait long.

So sad.

Maybe not a public bus but a van.

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Is this another smart meaningless Editorial?

Until the laws of all areas are enforced, and believe me Thailand has laws (based upon the English and French laws of state, primarily), by the powers that be, such as bent coppers and lawyers, then there will be no change in the standards - permittting bus drivers and their colleagues to be tested for LV licenses, drug abuse and so forth.

It's a sad and unwitting, and certainly unneeded, editorial.

My hat goes off to the editor! Thanks, but no thanks.

-mel.

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BANGKOK 25 July 2017 01:57
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