After a suspension in September 2022, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is resuming the free electric boat services on the Phadung Krung Kasem Canal in Bangkok. The service will recommence tomorrow, March 15, 2023, and will cover a distance of about five kilometres from the old Hua Lamphong railway station, through Bo Be market and Pan Fah Bridge to the Phra Sumen Fort in the Ratchadamnoen area.
Krungthep Thanakom, an investment arm of the BMA, has been tasked with selecting a private company to operate the service. The BMA has reportedly reduced the cost of operating the service from 2.4 million baht to 1.8 million baht per month.
Furthermore, the BMA has announced plans to launch the second phase of the free boat service, which will operate from Hua Lamphong railway station to the Thewarat market. The service will be available on weekdays from 6am – 9 am and from 4 pm – 7 pm, while on weekends and public holidays, it will operate from 8 am – 7 pm.
The original free boat service was launched in late 2020 but was not popular among commuters at the time. As a result, the number of passengers dropped from around 1,000 per day to only 400-500. Despite the low number of passengers, the BMA decided to continue the service and improve it to better serve the public, given that the service was originally launched in the middle of lockdowns and border closures due to the Covid pandemic.
Back in 2020, the electric boat service was part of the BMA’s efforts to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in the city. The boats are powered by electricity and emit zero emissions, making them an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.
The boats are equipped with comfortable seating and can accommodate up to 30 passengers at a time. The service is free of charge, making it an affordable option for commuters who want to avoid the heavy traffic on the city’s roads.
The Phadung Krung Kasem Canal is one of the major canals in Bangkok, running as a tributary of the Chao Phraya Rover through Rattanakosin Island, and the electric boat service provides commuters with a convenient and scenic way to travel through the city.
The canal runs through some of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions, including the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun.
The electric boat service was well received by both locals and tourists, and many people have praised the BMA for introducing this sustainable mode of transportation. The problem was, despite being free, few people were around at the time to use and enjoy the service.
The BMA says they’re committed to expanding the service and improving the infrastructure to make it even more convenient and accessible to commuters.