Baht buses OK’d to return to Soi Buakhao

More official routes are being added to Pattaya’s baht bus system.
More official routes are being added to Pattaya’s baht bus system.

Even though many drivers are simply ignoring them, more official routes were added to Pattaya’s baht bus system – including Soi Buakhao.

National Council for Peace and Order Banglamung chief, Maj. Gen. Popanan Luengpanuwat met June 12 with the local Baht Bus Cooperative, government officials, businesspeople and soldiers to discuss the progress of the army’s attempt to impose order on unruly songthaews.

Transport officials told the meeting that four routes added this year serving the periphery of Pattaya were working smoothly, although they acknowledged drivers continue to stray from their designated areas to serve more-lucrative spots, such as Soi Buakhao, where the army actually tried – and failed – to ban baht buses.

The military signaled defeat at the meeting, announcing that Soi Buakhao will be added to the South Pattaya-Dolphin Roundabout-Naklua route.

“Even though the government has tried to fix this issue many times, it wasn’t very effective due to many careless drivers who simply violated the rules,” Popanan said.

“The ineffectiveness is mostly due to the lack of driver discipline, such as parking and picking up passengers outside designated areas, double parking, parking in spots where they shouldn’t be, and driving outside the official routes,” he explained. “Not only that, but many vehicles often act like taxi cabs, charging a flat fare for a private trip, which is not allowed by law.”

Popanan said that 612 drivers have been fined this year and 712 vehicles impounded for days or weeks.

Other changes include the Banglamung District to Bali Hai Pier route being expanded to serve Second Road and the Baan Charoenrat-Jom­tien Beach route extended to Walking Street.

The North Pattaya-Jomtien Beach route will add Jomtien Second Road. Officials stressed it would be a limited test and could change if traffic worsens markedly.

Authorities also said that starting June 20 they would adjust the volume of pickup truck taxis on various routes to sync with demand.