BTS warns of huge fare hike unless Green Line concession extended
Skytrain operator Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC) has defended the bid to extend its Green Line concession, after criticism that the Blue Line is much cheaper by comparison.
The Cabinet last week withheld approval for a 30-year extension of the concession from 2029 to 2059 after the Transport Ministry objected to the Bt65 top fare. The ministry pointed out that the MRT’s Blue Line only charges a maximum Bt48.
Surapong Laoha-Unya, chief operating officer of BTSC, explained that the Green Line and Blue Line had different costs. He said that under the contract, BTS must share Bt200 billion annual revenue from the Green Line with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
He added that the Green Line charged higher fares because it was longer and had more stations than the Blue Line.
"If we compare the fares with distances on the BTS Green Line and MRT Blue Line, the fare average is similar,” he added. “The Green Line is 68 kilometres long with 59 stations and a maximum fare of Bt65, while the Blue Line is 48km with 38 stations and a maximum fare of Bt42.”
However, while the Blue Line was constructed by the state, BTS had to pay Bt60 billion to build the Green Line, Surapong said.
When combined with various debts and new investment, renewing the Green Line concession would lift the BMTA’s annual cost burden to Bt300 billion, he added.
Meanwhile the BMA’s own market sounding had found no companies interested in taking over the concession in 2036, when it would become available if it was not extended, he said.
Surapong urged renewal of the concession, saying it would allow the opening of seven more BTS stations to complete the Green Line route connecting the provinces of Bangkok, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani.
Failure to renew the concession would mean the Green Line reverted to the maximum fare of Bt158, rather than Bt65 under the proposed extension contract, he said.