BANGKOK — Some Bangkokians slumping into the subway this morning may have noticed something missing – seats.
Did a mass theft occur Sunday night? Nope. They were removed from sections of one train on the MRT Blue Line as an experiment to reduce passenger congestion in what metro deputy Gov. Ronnachit Yaemsaard said was an experiment.
“We’d like to ask cooperation from passengers to move inside so that other passengers can journey together,” the BEM and Metro Co. Ltd. tweeted just after 8am. It did not say when the experiment would end.
Passenger crush for metro commuters has become critical as ridership has grown, especially in the morning and evening rush hours. There did not seem to be any announcement of the removal other than the tweet.
BEM เพิ่มพื้นที่ว่างในขบวนรถไฟสายสีน้ำเงิน โดยถอดเก้าอี้นั่งผู้โดยสารออกเฉพาะที่นั่งแถวกลาง เพื่อให้ผู้โดยสารสามารถเดินทางได้มากขึ้น
เริ่มทดลองให้บริการขบวนแรก ตั้งแต่วันที่ 20/11/60 เป็นต้นไป และขอความร่วมมือผู้โดยสารช่วยขยับนิดชิดในให้ผู้โดยสารท่านอื่นสามารถเดินทางไปด้วยกัน pic.twitter.com/INNLypD4wP
— MRT Bangkok Metro (@BEM_MRT) November 20, 2017
Ronnachit said the experiment is one of several measures being taken to lessen rush-hour congestion, such as reminding passengers to move deeper into the compartment and wear their backpacks in front.
The move drew anger from commuters who said the MRT would serve the public better if it simply bought more trains.
“Why didn’t they just add more trains? They still charge full fares. They already canceled their monthly card, and now they’ve removed seats, too,” tweeted @Ssummersnoww.
“Isn’t it better to increase train frequency during rush hours rather than remove the seats?” wrote @_andxJ.
But some also accept that adding more trains would be a complicated move that could take years.
“You can’t simply conjure up trains whenever you wish it. They have to order and assemble trains,” @Nuttyi tweeted.
The MRT has previously said it was looking to bring more trains into service by 2019. Ronnachit said the current approaches were stop-gap measures until then.
“These solutions cannot solve every problem,” he said. “However, we will continue to come up with new measures to increase passengers convenience before the new trains operate in 2019.”