Skytrain boss warns rail fares will rise

Skytrain boss warns rail fares will rise

Government urged to provide subsidies

Fares for electric train lines could rise under the new common ticketing system if the government does not provide more subsidies for private companies which operate the lines in Bangkok, BTS Group Holdings Plc chairman Keeree Kanjanapas says.

He said several companies are set for higher operating and maintenance costs due to higher passenger intake and route expansions.

"Every private operator would naturally want to use their own starting prices," Mr Keeree said.

"If the MRT and BTS each observes separate, one-baht starting fares, for example, how will the common ticketing system implement a collective starting price for less than that amount, without further concessions first being given to the operators by the government?"

Upon its completion, the common ticketing system aims to allow passengers to use a single card -- called the "Mangmoom," or Spider card -- to access all modes of transport.

However, the system's integration has been postponed several times, with the latest statement by Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith pushing the cards' official rollout to June 2018.

The June deadline will see the public initially use the Mangmoom cards to transit between the Airport Rail Link and public buses, while the BTS skytrain and MRT Purple and Blue Lines are expected to follow through in October, he said.

Authority for the common ticketing system was transferred from the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) to the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) earlier this year, as a result of a cabinet decision.

MRTA acting governor Rithika Suparat said yesterday meetings with concerned parties to discuss investment plans for the project will be concluded within this year.

"The system's official ticket fares can only be discussed after installment plans become more solid," he said.

"It does not necessarily mean prices have to increase, since the expansions and transit stations connecting multiple routes can also result in more revenue for the private companies, in addition to their higher operational costs."

According to Mr Keeree, by the end of 2020, the Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc will service an average of two million passengers per day, after the MRT Pink Line and MRT Yellow Line monorails are open for the public.

The projected figure also includes the BTS' main Sukhumvit Line and its planned extensions. At present, up to 900,000 passengers use the BTS' existing routes daily, he said.

The BTS won bids for both the Pink and Yellow Line monorails last December through a joint venture comprising of the company itself, Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc.

The Pink Line, stretching from Khae Rai in Nonthaburi to Min Buri in Bangkok, is 34.5km long, and is worth 53.5 billion baht. The Bangkok's Lat Phrao- Samut Prakan's Samrong Yellow Line, 30.4km long, is valued at 51.9 billion baht.

Mr Keeree said both monorail lines will initially average about 200,000 passengers each per day.

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