BTSC advised to cap train fares at B65

BTSC advised to cap train fares at B65

Firm seeks operating contract until 2059

Current ticket prices on the BTS Skytrain are capped at 52 baht for the longest trip. The Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) has been asked to pledge to keep fares below 65 baht until 2059 in exchange for another 30-year operating licence. (Creative Commons)
Current ticket prices on the BTS Skytrain are capped at 52 baht for the longest trip. The Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) has been asked to pledge to keep fares below 65 baht until 2059 in exchange for another 30-year operating licence. (Creative Commons)

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is negotiating with the Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC), which operates the skytrain network, to cap train fares at 65 baht as a condition of being granted a 30-year contract to operate the entire system after its concession for the original route ends in 2029.

A source at the BMA said City Hall is considering awarding the contract from 2030-2059, under the public-private partnership (PPP) model to the BTSC with a condition that train fares are kept at a maximum of 65 baht until 2029.

This means the BMA and the BTSC will have to revise terms of existing contracts for the original route and the extensions, some of which have been put into service, the source said.

"We expect to finalise talks with the firm next year and sign the deal before 2020. But the PPP contract will not start until 2030," the source said.

According to the source, fares under the new PPP contract will be reviewed later based on a number of factors including the number of passengers and the rate of inflation.

BTSC is the sole concessionaire of the original Green Line, or the skytrain network which has two routes: the Sukhumvit Line running from Mo Chit to On Nut and the Silom Line running from the National Stadium to Saphan Taksin. The 30-year concession ends in 2029.

The company has also been awarded operating and maintenance agreements for two Green Line extensions: the 5.5km On Nut-Bearing extension to the Sukhumvit Line and the 7.5km Saphan Taksin-Bang Wa extension to the Silom Line. These two extensions have yet to commence services.

The BMA has also signed an agreement to hire the BTSC to operate and maintain another two extensions: Bearing-Samut Prakan and Mo Chit-Saphan Mai-Khu Khot. These routes are also not operational yet.

These extended routes branching off from the core network were built by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) at a cost of 60 billion baht, and the BMA is seeking transfer of ownership from the MRTA.

The cabinet's endorsed guidelines require that the entire Green Line network be run by a single operator to ensure smooth operations.

The BMA is expected to submit to the cabinet for approval this month a plan involving the transfer of debts and assets from the MRTA.

Initially, the BMA is likely to pay for the construction cost of the extensions while the system operator will be required to pay for the signalling system.

BTSC chief executive officer Surapong Laoha-unya said the terms are acceptable thanks to an expected rise in the number of passengers as the stations increase.

"Technically, we can do it in terms of [maintaining] train fares. The BMA has asked us to consider this for some time," he said.

"It depends on how soon the government will give it the green light."

In September, the cabinet approved a royal decree appointing the MRTA to oversee the construction of urban mass-transit projects in Chiang Mai, Phangnga and Phuket.


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