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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vientiane-Khon Kaen bus route to open

Laos and Thailand will open a new bus route next month, a return service from Vientiane to Khon Kaen, aiming to promote trade and tourism.

Deputy Head of the Planning and Transport Divi si on of the State Bus Enterprise, Mr Bounyou Thammasath, said this would be the third Lao-Thai bus route, in addition to return trips from Vientiane to Nong Khai and from Vientiane to Oudon Thani.

From a joint survey carried out by Lao and Thai bus authorities, it was found that the number of people travelling to Khon Kaen was increasing daily.

“At present passengers must first to go Thailand and board a private bus if they want to get to Khon Kaen, paying for two separate journeys - from Vientiane to Nong Khai and from Nong Khai to Khon Kaen,” Mr Bounyou said, adding that the new service would make things much easier for passengers.

The service will begin on February 14, running two buses a day on the 150-km route and charging 50,000 kip or 180 baht.

The buses will depart the Morning Market at 8.15am and 2.15pm.

There are plans to increase the number of buses if demand is high. “This is the first step of the b usiness,” he said.

Since Laos and Thailand opened a return bus service from Vientiane to Nong Khai in 2004, the number of passengers has risen annually and more buses have been added. At present there are six buses a day each to Nong Khai and Oudon Thani.

It costs 15,000 kip or 55 baht for the journey to Nong Khai and 22,000 kip or 80 baht to travel as far as Oudon Thani.

Mr Bounyou said that rising fuel prices had cut into profits, but so far ticket prices remained unchanged.

However, officials have written a proposal to the government asking for permission to increase bus fares, which it is now considering.

With the building of friendship bridges between Laos and Thailand , the transportation sector has developed considerably, especially on the bus route running from Savannakhet province in Laos to Mukdahane province in Thailand .

Mr Bounyou said Laos and Thailand were planning to introduce a return service from Vientiane to Bangkok in the years to come.

He said that the State Bus Enterprise had not yet begun a service to Vietnam and China , but passengers wanting to travel by bus to these countries could start their journey at the Southern Bus Station or at the Northern Bus Station in Vientiane.

By XAYXANA LEUKAI
(Latest Update Janurary 24, 2008)