Thailand’s first emission-free commuter ferry fleet went into service in late November, operated by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA).
The eight, 47.5ft fiberglass vessels were repowered by the MariArt Shipyard, based on the outskirts of the city, the existing 205hp diesel engines replaced with twin Torqeedo Cruise 10kW electric outboards, coupled to 12 of the company’s Power 24-3500 lithium batteries and four fast chargers.
The 30-passenger, zero-emission water taxis are part of a fleet of ferries operated by BMA’s Enterprise Krungthep Thanakom Company (KT BMA). They work a 5km route daily, providing a transport link between an express ferry on the Chao Phraya river, the Saen Saep canal boats and the MRT subway station at Hua Lamphong, with ferries departing every 15 minutes.
“This is an important achievement for the city of Bangkok and a key part of our Thailand 4.0 Smart City vision for an integrated, clean, green public transportation system including bus, rail and waterways,” noted Dr Ekarin Vasanasong, deputy managing director of KT BMA.
Improving transportation and air quality are pressing challenges for BMA. The city was recently named the world’s most congested by navigation company TomTom. With millions of automobiles, tuk tuks and motorbike taxis crowding the streets, the average Bangkok resident spends more than 64 hours a year in traffic jams. The transport sector contributes a quarter of Bangkok’s carbon emissions – higher than the global average – and the city’s schools were temporarily closed last year due to extremely poor air quality.
“Adding electric ferries to the intermodal public transport plan accomplishes the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority’s goals in two ways: moving passengers from roads to the waterways reduces congestion and, since the boats are 100% emission-free, they don’t contribute to harmful local air pollution,” remarked Dr Michael Rummel, Torqeedo’s managing director.