The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) will install e-ticket readers on 200 buses and use a smartphone system on hundreds of other buses to serve holders of electronic welfare cards next month, a BMTA deputy director said on Wednesday.
Prayoon Chuykaew said poor people would be able to use the welfare cards to ride BMTA buses for free, but the BMTA would stop providing free bus rides to the general public from October 1.
Prayoon said the BMTA was supposed to provide 600 buses ready to serve welfare card holders from October 1, but the installation of e-ticket readers would not be finished in time.
Instead, the conductors of the 600 buses would be given a smartphone to read the data on welfare electronic cards pending completion of e-ticket reader installation on the buses.
Once e-ticket readers are installed, the BMTA will retrieve the smartphones, he added.
Prayoon said each bus will have two e-ticket readers and the welfare cardholders will have to tap the readers when they get on and off.
Poor people who have registered with the government will receive their welfare cards on Thursday, but only some of them will be able to use the cards for free bus rides.
Prayoon added that the BMTA plans to install e-ticker readers and a cash-box system on all of its 2,600 buses within five years and phase-out conductors.
Ch Thawee Plc has been hired to make the installation with a budget of Bt1.66 billion.
During the first two years of the automatic fare-payment system, bus conductors will still be hired to guide passengers on how to use the system, Prayoon added.
After that, the conductors will be encouraged to enter a voluntary early retirement programme.