Caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt held an urgent meeting yesterday with agencies in charge of land and water mass transportation systems to map out measures to alleviate commuters’ inconveniences.
The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) announced a Bangkok shutdown which involves closures of seven major spots in Bangkok, including Pathumwan, Silom-Lumpini, Asoke, Ratchprasong, Victory Monument, Lat Prao and Chaeng Wattana.
Mr Chadchart said the seizure will impact 689,000 residents, 440,000 students and 1.2 million employees who live in or commute in the areas, saying commuting times will double.
He said the Transport Ministry will provide 41 parking lots to enable motorists to park their vehicles and switch to mass transport services. The parking areas will accommodate a total of 18,000 cars from different parts of the city.
Frequency of trains between the inner city and the outskirts will increase to every 15 minutes while buses will possibly run at a speed of 5-7 km/hour instead of the normal 12 km/hour, he said, adding that Vibhavadi Rangsit, Phahonyothin, Sukhumvit and Rama IV roads will possibly be the most congested.
Six expressway exits - Silom, Hua Lampong, Yommaraj, Victory Monument, Sukhumvit and Rama IV - will be shut to facilitate traffic flow.
He said the MRT underground trains can accommodate 15,000-17,000 passengers/hour and Airport Link 5,000 passenger/hour while express boats on the Chao Phraya River and Saen Saeb waterway transport 60,000 commuters/day.
About 600 shuttle buses will be available to service passengers between parking spots to nearby train stations.
Suwat Sidthilaw, Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports, said tourist assistance centres will be specially set up at Hua Mark, Don Mueang airport and Suvarnabhumi airport to assist and facilitate tourists.
Help desks will also be available at BTS skytrain stations at Siam, Phyathai, Ekamai, Wong Wien Yai and Hua Lampong railway station, while shuttle bus service to airports will be provided from Twin Towers, Eastin Grand (Sathorn) and Windsor (Sukhumvit 18) hotels for emergency cases.
He said the normal hotel occupancy of 90 per cent during the peak months of January and February has dropped to only 50 per cent and tourists have been recommended to divert to outlying provinces of Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi.