BMA steps up operator hunt

BMA steps up operator hunt

65-baht fare cap a key sticking point

The Green Line's extended section to Samut Prakan (photo by Apichart Jinakul)
The Green Line's extended section to Samut Prakan (photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has vowed to work harder to seek a concessionaire to operate the Green Line Skytrain extension service and keep fares capped at 65 baht.

Phanurak Klannurak, director of the BMA's Traffic and Transport Department, said the Transport Ministry had transferred the property of Green Line extension to the city administration already.

The extension services cover Mo Chit-Saphan Mai-Kukot and the On Nut-Bearing-Samut Prakan section.

During this period, BTS Group Holdings Plc will be temporarily allowed to operate the extensions while the BMA seeks a new operator.

"We will put greater efforts into seeking a new private operator or hold talks with the existing operator, BTS Group. However, a key condition of the BMA is the 65-baht fare limit for the entire route," said Mr Phanurak, adding that the ceiling was proposed by Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang.

Talks between City Hall and BTS about fares are unlinely to conclude by mid-month as planned since a lot of details still need to be discussed, he said.

At present, a trip between Mo Chit and Samut Prakan, the section now in service, costs 59 baht.

The BMA has been forced to speed up the process after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issued a Section 44 order to streamline the management of the Green Line on Thursday.

The order demands that City Hall quickly seek a private operator to deal with system installation and train management on the Green Line extensions from Bearing to Samut Prakan and from Mo Chit to Saphan Mai and Kukot.

Surapong Laoha-unya, executive director of BTS, said the company was ready to hold talks with the government and the BMA and a conclusion could be made within 30 days.

The BTS is currently running the Bearing-Samut Prakan under and agreement with the BMA at a cost of 20 million baht a month, according to Mr Suraphong.

Since the section opened four months ago, it has been averaging 60,000 passengers a day, he said.

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