Thaksin scraps plan to start road pricing in Bangkok

Thaksin scraps plan to start road pricing in Bangkok - The Straits Times, August 19, 2004
A plan to make motorists pay to use Bangkok's main streets was scrapped yesterday as Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the city simply could not make the idea work.
'I don't think the plan is practical since we don't have a computer system to check vehicles,' Mr Thaksin told reporters ahead of a meeting on conservation measures as oil prices soared. 'We haven't provided other options for people yet.'
The road-pricing plan, one of several oil conservation schemes considered by Thailand, would have been similar to those used in Singapore, London and Jakarta...


[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Thaksin scraps plan to start road pricing in Bangkok
But to save energy amid rising oil costs, service stations and stores will be asked to close earlier

BANGKOK: -- A plan to make motorists pay to use Bangkok's main streets was scrapped yesterday as Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the city simply could not make the idea work.

'I don't think the plan is practical since we don't have a computer system to check vehicles,' Mr Thaksin told reporters ahead of a meeting on conservation measures as oil prices soared. 'We haven't provided other options for people yet.'

The road-pricing plan, one of several oil conservation schemes considered by Thailand, would have been similar to those used in Singapore, London and Jakarta.

Energy Ministry officials floated the idea last week, but motorists opposed it.

To save energy, Mr Thaksin said the government will order service stations to close by midnight. It will also ask shopping centres and superstores to close by 8pm and 10pm respectively.

'Large stores such as Tesco or Carrefour would be asked for cooperation, but we won't get involved with those small shops which open 24 hours,' he said.

Department stores in Bangkok usually close by 10pm, but British and French superstores Tesco and Carrefour, as well as convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, are open round the clock.

The government will also scrap petrol subsidies amounting to 0.55 baht to 0.63 baht (2.3 to 2.6 Singapore cents) per litre from next week. There have been seven petrol increases this year, most recently on Tuesday.

However, the government promised to keep diesel subsidies until year-end to help farmers in a country where more than 60 per cent of the 63 million population lives off the land.

A general election is due by March.

Bangkok did not say how much it expected the measures to save, but an Energy Ministry official said: 'Motorists will drive less and consume less oil, and electricity consumption will come down.'

The government also ordered the army to help finish two carparks near Bangkok's mass transit stations quickly to encourage motorists to use the Skytrain elevated railway and Metro underground rail service, a spokesman said.

Other measures approved at yesterday's meeting included waiving import duties on engines and parts for vehicles powered by natural gas and a campaign to persuade people to switch to alternative fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel, he said.

More measures are expected to emerge from another meeting on Sunday, the spokesman said.

Energy accounts for about 10 per cent of Thailand's imports.

In a separate development, the government has urged a fare cut for the new Metro to ease Bangkok's traffic woes, according to reports. Passengers had drifted away after a cut-price ticket deal ended.

Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said users had almost halved after the flat-rate ticket offer of 10 baht ended last Thursday.

Fares now range from 12 baht to 31 baht, which are too expensive for many Thai workers.

Bangkok Metro 'should review the fares and launch additional promotional activities to draw more passengers', Mr Suriya was quoted as saying in The Nation.

'Meanwhile, the government will try to find money to compensate for some of the lost revenue,' he said.

-- Reuters, AFP 2004-08-19
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