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A songthaew (Malay: dua baris; Thai สองแถว, literally "two rows"; Lao: ສອງແຖວ [sɔ̌ːŋtʰíw]) is a passenger vehicle in Thailand and Laos adapted from a pick-up or a larger truck and used as a share taxi.
It takes its name from the two bench seats fixed along either side of the back of the truck; in some vehicles a third bench is put down the middle of the seating area. Additionally a roof is fitted over the rear of the vehicle, to which curtains and plastic sheeting to keep out rain may be attached. Some vehicles have roofs large enough to accommodate standing passengers within the vehicle, or passengers may stand on a platform attached to the rear.
Songthaews are used both within towns and cities and for longer routes between towns and villages. Those within towns are converted from pick-up trucks and usually ply fixed routes for a set fare, but in some cases (as in Chiang Mai) they are used as shared taxis for passengers traveling in roughly the same direction.
Vehicles on longer routes may be converted from larger trucks for about 40 passengers.
A songthaew loaded with young students on the way home from school. Amphoe Kantharalak, Thailand (January 2005)
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