Tue, August 16, 2022

in-focus

Fares on Green Line extension only possible in August, says BTSC


The Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC) said on Tuesday that it needs one month to update its fare-calculation software and make other arrangements before it can start collecting fares on the Green Line extension.

BTSC CEO Surapong Laoha-Unya was referring to an earlier statement from Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt, who said he wanted BTSC to start collecting a 15-baht fare for the extended routes from July 1. The 15-baht fare is based on the condition that the fare for the entire Green Line cannot exceed 59 baht.

Skytrain fares are capped at 59 baht at present, but nothing is collected for the extended routes. If BTSC were to collect 15 baht for the extended route but still cap the entire fare at 59 baht, it would have to adjust the current fares accordingly.

Hence, Surapong said, the July 1 deadline does not give BTSC enough time to install new software to recalculate the fares.

Moreover, he said, the BTSC contract requires it to inform commuters one month in advance of plans to change fares, and it also needs time to install signs marking out fares on the extended routes.

He also pointed out that BTSC does not hold a concession for the Green Line extension, but is operating the routes on Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)’s behalf. Surapong also pointed out that the 15-baht rate on the extended route would not earn the BMA enough revenue to pay back what it owes to BTSC.

Fares on Green Line extension only possible in August, says BTSC “The extension runs for quite a distance and costs a lot more to operate than a fare of 15 baht can cover. It also depends on BMA’s policy because BTSC has only been hired to operate the trains and collect fares on BMA’s behalf,” Surapong said.

Deputy Bangkok governor Wisanu Subsompon said on Tuesday that the 15 baht fare for the extended route under the condition that the entire fare is capped at 59 baht should be acceptable to commuters.

He said the extended route from Mor Chit to Khu Kot is 19 kilometres long and has 16 stations, while the extension from Bearing to Kheha in Samut Prakan is 13km long with nine stations.

Fares on Green Line extension only possible in August, says BTSC Wisanu said he has spoken to executives of Krungthep Thanakom, BMA’s investment arm, about the collection of fares on the extended routes as recommended by the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).

TDRI advised BMA on June 16 to start collecting fares for the extended routes so it can earn revenue to start paying off its debt to BTSC.

Wisanu added that he and other senior officials believe the 59-baht cap is suitable but said BMA’s Traffic and Transport Department has confirmed that the fare-collection software cannot be updated in time for the July 1 deadline.

Chadchart, meanwhile, met Krungthep Thanakom chairman Tongthong Chandrangsu on Tuesday to discuss the fare collection issue.

After the meeting, Chadchart confirmed the fare on the extended routes would be 15 baht and the fare for the entire route will be capped at 59 baht as recommended by TDRI.

He said his initial plan was to start the collection of fares from Friday, but BTSC has informed Krungthep Thanakom that preparations cannot be completed in time.

Separately, BMA owes 47 billion baht to BTSC, which breaks down to:

• 17.05 billion for operation and maintenance costs

• 20.09 billion for installation of electric and machinery system

• 10 billion in accrued interest

The BMA owes another 55 billion baht to the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) for building the Skytrain extension after the city administration won ownership of the extended routes from MRTA in 2018.

Published : June 28, 2022

By : THE NATION