BANGKOK — During the Thursday morning crunch, commuters streamed into a train at MRT Tao Poon to find three compartments no longer had seats.
Defending the plan after the unannounced pilot program met a frosty reception this week, officials insisted this morning that the new experiment – replacing 14 seats with 32 more straps in the middle of each compartment – means an additional 10 percent passenger capacity.
That means carrying 990 passengers instead of 900, according to Ronnachit Yaemsaard of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority.
The seat removal met a hostile reception from the public Monday, when it was piloted on a single train on the MRT Blue Line subway. Angry commuters protested the plan the system operator has presented as a stop-gap measure until it puts additional trains into service.
“I had a long day today and I only wished to sit in the MRT train. I was first in line, but it appeared the compartment I was on was the one that had its seats removed. Damn it,” @waralee tweeted.
Good governance activist attorney Srisuwan Janya filed a complaint Tuesday alleging the Bangkok Expressway and Metro exploited consumers by not investing in purchasing more trains.
If the plan is approved, seats will be removed from every train by the end of the year, said Sombat Kitjalaksana. managing director of the Bangkok Expressway and Bangkok Metro.
The MRT Blue Line’s 19 trains will be supplemented by an additional 35 trains, Sombat said, which have been ordered and will be rolled out starting in late 2018.
Not all were opposed to the idea. A number of people said the change would add more space and offer more options for commuters.
“[I] like the new MRT. It can fit more people. They only removed the seats in the middle. There are still seats in other areas,” @Natfanjbnaja tweeted.
Sombat said the model is common around the world on rail services in places such as Japan and Singapore.
For those who entitled to seats, Ronnachit said the affected carriages will be marked by stickers to inform pregnant women, children, monks and seniors where seats have been removed.