Re-look at NGV bus plan ordered
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has told the Transport Ministry that its Bt13-billion plan to acquire a fleet of 3,183 NGV buses for the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority needs more study, so it was not considered by the Cabinet yesterday.
Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said Yingluck had taken a personal interest in this project. She asked the ministry to provide more details on whether there would be enough stations providing natural gas for vehicles to serve these buses and how this project would help the BMTA reduce its mountain of debt, now at a whopping Bt76 billion.
The proposal was first submitted to the Cabinet last week but Yingluck sent it back to the ministry for review to see if there were enough buses modified with equipment to serve the physically disabled.
The ministry's request includes both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses.
Chadchart said that on the debt issue, the ministry would consult with other agencies such as the Finance Ministry and National Economic and Social Development Board.
Among the options are asking the government to allocate a budget to offset the BMTA's losses and asking the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to allocate a budget to help defray the BMTA's expenses, since part of the transit authority's debt comes from serving commuters in the capital.
"The BMTA has been suffering losses for more than 20 years and the plan to purchase NGV buses is part of the attempt to solve its debt," Chadchart said. "But the BMTA will not raise fares because that will not be enough to cut its massive debt.
"The BMTA has to improve its service and avoid incurring more debt. The NGV-bus procurement project is expected to break even within 10 years," he said.