More than 500 Pattaya baht buses and taxis have stopped their services as there are not many customers according to the head of the local baht bus (songtaew) association.
The president of the Pattaya Bus Cooperation Mr. Tawat Pueakboonnak told associated Thai local media this weekend, “There have not been many passengers overall since the first wave of the Covid – 19 pandemic as the majority of our customers previously were foreigners and tourists, especially on previously popular routes like Pattaya to Jomtien”
“However, the situation was getting significantly better at the end of last year as we still had Thai customers and some local expats. Weekends in particular were seeing large numbers of domestic Thai tourists visiting the Pattaya and Jomtien area and as a result we had many buses resume operation and many of our drivers return from their home provinces elsewhere in Thailand. The city had planned a lot of events in the near future and things were looking up overall.” Tawat continued.
“The new series of infections is worse than the first time last year as Pattaya is in the red zone, or highly controlled. This means domestic tourism cannot come even if they wanted to as one needs permission from regional and provincial leaders to enter and exit highly controlled provinces. There has also been a lot of fear from local residents that they might catch the Covid-19 virus so many are going out less often. This has led to nearly no local customers or tourists and it has become a bleak situation for our drivers.” Tawat said, showing visible emotion as he spoke to reporters.
“There are a total of 712 baht buses and 170 taxis in the Pattaya Bus Cooperation. More than 500 of them have stopped their service completely and many others are operating on a part-time or bare bones schedule.”
“Some drivers have gone back to their hometowns to do other jobs. There are a few of them that are still available but every day more decide to stop, at least for the time being, leaving Pattaya’s transportation system a shadow of what it used to be. Although there is no curfew there are no passengers after 10:00 PM now as entertainment venues are closed and even stores like 7-11 are forced to close from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM. This was previously one of our busiest times and this time of year, early January, has always traditionally been a busy period for Pattaya.” Tawat said.
“Drivers still operating are being told to enact safety standards such as having to scan a QR code for the Thai Chana application and require social distancing without filling their buses to capacity, as we have had some complaints on this from people worried about social distancing on public transportation.” Tawat added.
“We have also decreased monthly fees for operators in the cooperation who do not fully own their vehicles. Some baht bus and taxi owners have not collect rental fees from the drivers to help them during this difficult time. We hope that the government of Chonburi and Pattaya are able to help resolve this current crisis and restart at least domestic tourism as the situation right now is very bleak for many people who are informal workers and have no government aid.” Tawat concluded.
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