Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Foto - October 2, 2009

Today's picture is one that I see almost daily here in Thailand. The bus. Mornings I generally take a taxi to school as I'm just not awake enough to deal with standing A to B like a sardine in a packed, exhaust filled public bus. After school sees me on the bus though.

There are several different types of buses here, usually classified by color or "amenities".

We have our nicer buses, which I rarely ride as I usually take the first thing that comes by. The nicer buses are white or yellow. The white buses have plasma tv, air conditioning, working doors, and they actually wash them. The yellow buses also have air but no tv. White and yellow buses will run you about 15-20 baht or roughly 50 cents.

There are also orange buses, which I think used to be the newer and nicer buses. Many of them have fallen into disrepair and are slowly getting worse. The air is always running, but sometimes it feels like warm air is blowing out. The interiors smell like axle grease and exhaust. 12 baht for me to get home.

Blue buses and red buses are probably what most people ride here in BKK, not just because they cost less, but probably also out of sheer availability. 8 red or blue buses will come by before one nice one.

Blue buses don't have air conditioning, instead opting for oscillating fans mounted on the ceiling. If I had ten baht for every time I bashed my head on a low hanging fan in a blue bus I'd be on a flight to visit home by now!

The floors of the blue buses are made from wood, long 1 or 2x6 wood planks! In the less well kept buses you can watch the road go by beneath you as you doze in and out of sleep! These will put you out 8 baht. (There are a few 12 baht blue buses with air for certain routes, but they are the axle grease, warm air type anyway, more tour bussy than commuter bussy as well.)

The cheaper buses are red. They have no air con or fans at all; cost 7 baht. Wooden floors, some of them have doors! The lack of doors is often a good thing as the things are like an oven inside. I'd have to say, since the reds and blues are most common, I ride 50% red, 45% blue, 3% yellow, 1% orange and 1% white. Again, whichever bus comes first!

Actually, since the economic downturn, there has been a policy here to where about half of the red bus routes were free, a big sticker across the front of the bus in Thai read "Free bus for the people". Now, with the new government and a stabilized economy they have changed the sign to read "Free bus paid by the taxes of the people". (Yes I know the word for "tax" in Thai...death and taxes my friends...death and taxes!)

There are no buses here with coin drops or anything like that for paying the bus fare. Thailand is pure "bus attendant". There's a worker on each bus who walks around collecting fare and handing out small receipt/ticket things that record when you got on. These same little chits often litter the bus floor or the street near the bus stops.

The quality of the drivers and bus attendants also rises with the quality of the bus. The white, and yellow buses, and most orange ones usually have drivers who probably have a valid license...and the attendants wear pressed uniforms and are polite (most of them) you get down towards the red buses, you have bus drivers who smoke, spit chewing tobacco out the window, bully their way through traffic, stop and buy lottery tickets in the middle of their route, and are probably more dangerous to public safety than anything that comes to mind...think Pamplona and bulls. Many attendants are rude, barefoot, stoned, pretty much anything you can think of negative in someone providing customer service. I can see these guys showing up to a job interview...

"Any felonies?" - "only two convictions, one of which is on appeal"
"Do you shower?" - "what's a shower?"
"Is that blood dried up on your neck?" - "it's nothing, just a gunshot wound"
"Tell me about a time when you encountered a difficult customer" - "huh?"
"How much will you pay me if I hire you?" - "1,000 baht"
"You're hired"

The above "conversation" is obviously made up, and probably a little unfair on my part as I think they keep this kind of job around not because they don't want to upgrade their buses or their efficiency, but to keep people employed. Lets just say that jobs on the red and blue buses are not typically taken by college graduates or even high school grads. I'm guessing that many of these people would be homeless if they didn't have jobs as bus attendants. Again, just my point of view after upwards of 700 bus rides since coming here.

Friday Foto turned into a post on buses. Hmmm. Well, if you click the picture above you'll be able to see the fans hanging down from the ceiling, the wooden floors, and even a wall clock glued to the front interior of the bus! This is a blue bus during non rush hour.



Titan and I said...

I don't miss the bus days in Hawaii.

Pae and Guy said...

I almost forgot about "Ride The Bus"

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