City Hall to end Bus Rapid Transit service

City Hall to end Bus Rapid Transit service

Students wait for a ride on the Bus Rapid Transit system that City Hall will terminate at the end of April. (Photo by Jiraporn Kuhakan)
Students wait for a ride on the Bus Rapid Transit system that City Hall will terminate at the end of April. (Photo by Jiraporn Kuhakan)

Bangkok's loss-ridden and unpopular Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service will get the chop at the end of April, seven years after it was launched.

City engineers and councillors had studied the service and shared the decision to terminate it.

The BRT was carrying only about 25,000 passengers a day, mainly people who were not its original target group of commuters, Bangkok deputy governor Amnoy Nimmano said on Monday.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration originally intended the 15.9km route between Sathon and Rajaphruek areas would feed commuters to the BTS elevated railway. Actually, most BRT passengers were students and elderly people who were eligible for discount fares and did not use the skytrain, Pol Lt Gen Amnoy said.

The BRT service was running at an annual loss of about 200 million baht to the BMA.

The loss was based on the 2 billion baht investment, which was not covered by collected fares.

The service contract would expire at the end of April and the BMA would ask the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority to provide buses to serve the 25,000 passengers, he said.

Concrete dividers demarcating BRT's dedicated lanes would be removed and the lanes return to normal traffic use. The BRT stations would be dismantled later, the deputy governor said.

Many motorists dared to use BRT's dedicated lanes, which had slowed down the buses and made the service unpopular, Pol Lt Gen Amnoy said.

Former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin announced the BRT project during his successful election campaign in 2004. Work on the project began the following year. Delayed implementation postponed the start of the service until May 29, 2010, during the tenure of former Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

BMA invested 2 billion baht in the BRT and paid Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTS) 535 million baht to operate it for seven years, until April 30.

MR Sukhumbhand halved the fare from 10 to 5 baht during campaigning for his second term as governor in 2013, when he was returned to office.

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