After talking with van operators in the Bangkok area, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said that he would revisit the policy requiring public van services to switch to vans.
If operators insist on using their existing van, they must ensure the old van achieves the safety standards. For van operators who would like to change to a microbus, the registration deadline previously set for August 13 has been removed.
The minister also directed the Land Transport Department to allow vans 10-12 years old to ensure they pass quality standards. He will later discuss with the department about security measures.
In response Sonthi Kotchawat, a lecturer on environment and public health at many universities believes that microbuses are a more suitable choice for public transport and they should replace the current vans immediately.
“Many foreign countries advocate the idea of using microbuses as a safer means of transport and were glad when Thailand planned to use them, but the transport minister’s decision clearly downgraded our public transport system from high-class to low-class,” he said.
“Vans are dangerous and cause five times more accidents than buses,” Said Sonthai. “Accident statistics compiled by Road Safety Group Thailand show that in 2018 there were 75 van accidents, causing 314 injuries and 41 deaths. In the first half of 2019, vans caused 28 accidents, resulting in 27 deaths and 126 injuries. That’s roughly four deaths and 26 injuries per month.”
Sonthi also said that public transport vans were being misused from their original purpose. “These vans are designed for product transport. They have a weaker body structure than passenger vehicles, which are designed to withstand crash impact and prevent overturning to protect the passengers.”