Single-ticket Bangkok public transport pushed back to 2020
The common ticketing system designed to link all modes of public transport in Bangkok will not fully launch this year as planned but commuters will be able to access the MRT Blue Line, the MRT Purple Line and the Airport Rail Link with a single card from September.
Padet Praditphet, director of the Common Ticketing Office, under the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, said that due to delays in system development, a fully single-ticket system will not come about until 2020.
He said the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), a state agency overseeing construction and the operation of urban mass-transit rail systems, has yet to decide if it will develop the ticketing system or have the state-run Krungthai Bank (KTB) do it.
It is expected to take 12-18 months to develop the system and the MRTA board will meet on June 21 to discuss issues including software development and the setting up of a subsidiary to manage the system, he said.
According to Mr Padet, the common ticketing system is divided into two phases known as 2.0 and 4.0.
The 2.0 version will link three transit systems of the MRT Blue Line, the MRT Purple Line, and the Airport Rail Link in September, while the 4.0 version which will use EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) technology as a payment method will work for everything, including the expressway system.
A source said transport permanent secretary Chaiwat Thongkhamkhoon has instructed state agencies to speed up as the project is long overdue.
Common ticketing is intended to make travel more convenient and flexible by allowing passengers to switch between electric trains, buses, and passenger boats. Currently, commuters carry multiple cards and still have to use cash for some services.
According to the source, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) which operates the city buses is currently unable to join due to a dispute over the e-ticket system installed on its fleet.
The bus agency is terminating a contract worth 1.65 billion baht with Cho Thavee Plc after equipment allegedly fell short of standards stipulated by the terms of reference. The firm is reportedly prepared to sue the BMTA for damages.
Meanwhile, Sumeth Ongkittikul, a transport researcher at the Thailand Development Research Institute, said the bus e-ticketing system had failed due to physical limitations of the buses and passenger behaviour.
He said the buses are not designed for the use of the e-ticketing system as it is normally deployed on "one man operator" buses with separate entry and exit doors, so bus fare collectors are still needed to make sure fares are paid.
He said about 30%-40% commuters are accustomed to paying cash and it is a challenge to motivate them to switch to electronic cards.