The Transport Ministry will seek cabinet approval for the purchase of 3,183 new buses fuelled by natural gas next week.
The ministry claims the deal would enable the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), which runs an accumulated loss of 70 billion baht, to turn in a 260 million baht profit for the first time in 2014.
Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt said the cabinet will consider on Tuesday whether to approve 13 billion baht for the new buses.
Under the deal, normal "hot" buses will be purchased at 3 million baht each and air-conditioned buses for 4 million baht each.
Mr Chadchat said it is more cost-effective to purchase than to lease the buses, as the BMTA is facing a shortage of serviceable buses.
With 40% of the fleet grounded due to repairs, only about 2,500 buses are currently in use. The new buses will run on compressed natural gas (sold as NGV) instead of diesel, which would halve the monthly 200 million baht fuel bill.
Part of the projected profit will also come from cost-cutting measures. Some BMTA staff will not be replaced after they leave, though Mr Chadchat stressed that no one would be made redundant.
Meanwhile, the Transport Ministry and the State Railway of Thailand are expected to request cabinet approval on Tuesday to proceed with Contracts 1 and 2 to build the Bang Sue-Rangsit section of the Red Line electric railway, SRT governor Prapas Jongsanguan said.
Contracts 1 and 2 pertain to the construction of basic infrastructure and the stations on the 26.3km-long route.
Mr Prapas said if the cabinet gives the go-ahead, contractors would be hired to begin the project.
The delay is now with Contract 3 concerning the laying of the train operation system and procurement of passenger train compartments.
Meanwhile, Mr Chadchat said he wanted to see the 20-baht flat-rate fare on the Airport Rail Link re-introduced.
The failure of the discount fare promotion on the City Line resulted in the service running at a loss of almost 2 million baht a month.
The 20-baht rate was introduced for the system's City Line on Oct 1 and ended on Dec 31. The company has since gone back to charging the normal fares for the City Line, which runs from Phaya Thai station to Suvarnabhumi airport.
Mr Chadchat said the discounted fare should return to encourage more people to take the electric train.
About the author
Writer: Pradit Ruangdit and Amornrat Mahitthirook