The military again has declared that Pattaya baht buses will run only on designated routes, but this time is backing up its order with the threat of heavier fines and vehicle seizures.
The National Council for Peace and Order’s Banglamung District office announced on Feb. 7 four more routes to bring the area’s count of “official” service lines to seven.
The official routes are now Bali Hai Pier to the Banglamung District office, a wide circle route around Pattaya, North Road to Jomtien Beach and the Baan Charoen Community to Rathpattana and Najomtien. The routes complement existing lines, including the well known Beach Road-Second Road “loop”.
However, while announcing the new service routes, the military at the same time banned baht buses from serving Soi Buakhao, which infuriated locals, both Thai and expat.
The order for the blue pickup truck taxis to run only on designated routes came after a “D-Day” operation Feb. 1 that saw more than 30 vehicles impounded for illegal parking and running off-route. While the National Council for Peace and Order laid out the routes in December, drivers largely ignored the order.
Having seen colleagues fined thousands of baht and had their trucks seized for three days, the baht bus drivers are now more compliant.
The new route system, however, brings an end to Pattaya’s easy system of anywhere transport, particularly for those needing to travel on narrow Soi Buakhao, where baht buses are now prohibited. Residents and expats grumbled loudly, but the street – which has just one lane running each direction – is now less congested.
“Is City Hall determined to drive away the independent tourist,” a Pattaya Mail reader wrote in a recent letter to the editor. “Soi Buakhao is now closed to baht buses. Why?,” he asked “It either forces you to walk in 30 C. heat along pavements too narrow to walk as a couple side-by-side and so uneven that you have to permanently look down to avoid tripping up. Twelve motorcycle taxis will be needed to replace one baht bus.”
The army wants people to call the 1337 Pattaya Contact Center if they spot any baht buses operating on Soi Buakhao or other off-route areas.
The new routes are:
Route 4: Bali Hai Pier to Third Road to Soi Photisan in Naklua to Naklua Road to the Banglamung District Office. The trip back to the pier follows the same route.
Route 5: Baan Charoen Community to Sukhumvit Road to Naklua Road to Beach Road to South Road to Pratamnak Road to Thappraya Road. It continues to Thepprasit Road and back to Sukhumvit and back to Thappraya and Jomtien Beach Road. The route terminates at Soi Chaiyapruek and travels back the way it came.
Route 6: Starts at the South Road and Sukhumvit intersection and travels along Sukhumvit to Naklua Road. It then proceeds down Naklua Road to North Road and Beach Road to South Road. It then returns up South Road to Sukhumvit.
Route 7: Starts on North Road at Sukhumvit and travels to Beach Road, South Road Thappraya and Jomtien Beach. It then turns on Soi Chaiyapruek and proceeds to Sukhumvit and Central Road and terminates at Second Road.
If you understand the descriptions of all of the routes, then you’ve obviously been here too long.