Need a lift: Disabled commuters oppose plan to purchase ill-equipped buses

Wheelchair ramp deployed on a bus operated by Singapore’s SMRT system. Photo: Joeyfjj

Bangkok is set to buy thousands of new buses, but disabled rights advocates say a flawed procurement plan means they won’t adequately serve some passengers’ special needs.

Hundreds of commuters with disabilities gathered to protest in from the Ministry of Transport yesterday to show their opposition to the THB13.1 billion plan to buy 3,183 new buses.

Laying wreaths in symbolic protest, the group said the most recent procurement plan does not meet the original stated goal of buying buses that would be accessible to all passengers. The new plan, they said, was modified so that only some buses – those without air conditioning – to be equipped for disabled access, and even then a system ill-equipped for Bangkok’s streets.

The non-aircon buses would have a wheelchair lift, but the activists said a ramp system is necessary in Bangkok traffic.

They have found support from the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which concuded the Bangkok Mass Transit’s procurement plan wasn’t transparent.

Acting BMTA directer Nares Boonpiam said the plan could be finalized as soon as today, Bangkok Post reported.

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