An estimated 50,000 people poured out of Bangkok on buses to their home provinces on Friday, about half the predicted figure for the traditional Songkran rush, due to fears over the latest wave of Covid-19 infections.
The figure on the first day of the peak travel period from April 9-18 was released by the state-owned Transport Company, which said it had laid on enough buses to carry 100,000 people.
Interprovincial buses and vans started shuttling people home on Thursday, carrying 40,017 people in 3,443 trips, according to Transport Company president Sanyaluck Panyawatthanalikit.
The company urged customers to arrive at bus depots at least an hour or two ahead of their scheduled departure time to ease congestion.
Mr Sanyaluck said the Mor Chit 2 terminal was particularly busy yesterday as buses to the North and Northeast leave from there.
The company has been giving out refunds for tickets cancelled in the wake of the Covid resurgence; customers can also postpone their journeys.
A full refund is being offered on interprovincial bus tickets booked for April 8-18.
As of late yesterday 4,160 tickets had been refunded. They must be claimed at least three hours prior to departure.
Those who bought their tickets using the state-sponsored aid schemes, such as Rao Chana or Mor 33 Rao Rak Kan, are not eligible to obtain a refund, however, although they are allowed to postpone their trips at least three hours before their scheduled departure.
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is also offering a full refund for unused tickets reserved during the Songkran period.
SRT governor Nirut Maneephan said the full refund had to be claimed at least 24 hours before departure. Again, no refund is being offered for tickets purchased using the state-financed aid schemes, unless the purchase was made using a co-payment programme, in which case only a portion of the payment is refunded.
If, however, either the origin or destination is located in a Covid (maximum control) red-zone province, the rules are relaxed a little — refunds can be obtained at least one hour rather than 24 hours before departure.
About 7.3 million vehicles are expected to stream on to interprovincial roads from today until April 16.