Rail regulator weighs off-peak discounts

Rail regulator weighs off-peak discounts

Move to boost ridership by 10%

Passengers prepare to board the MRT Blue Line train at Bang Wa station during a trial run of the Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae MRT extension on Aug 24. (Photo by Watcharawit Phudork)
Passengers prepare to board the MRT Blue Line train at Bang Wa station during a trial run of the Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae MRT extension on Aug 24. (Photo by Watcharawit Phudork)

The Department of Rail Transport is considering electric train discounts during off-peak hours on certain routes to boost the number of passengers by about 10%.

Department director-general Sarawut Songwilai said there are two potential options for the fare discount formats.

The first option is to provide off-peak discounts of 28-54% on electric train fares. 

Another option is to offer a fixed discount of five baht per ride for monthly ticket holders on selected routes, said Mr Sarawut. 

The off-peak periods are between 10am and 4pm, and between 8pm and midnight on weekdays, and all day on weekends. 

Passengers travelling on the Airport Rail Link route, for instance, are normally charged between 15 and 45 baht per ride, and the fare rates are between 15 and 25 baht when a 45% discount is applied, he said. 

Passengers travelling on the Purple Line's Tao Pun-Bang Yai section will be offered a 40% discount on the ticket fares during the off-peak periods, which means they will only pay between 14 and 25 baht, instead of the standard fares of between 14 and 42 baht per ride, he said. 

With a 28% discount, the fares for the Blue Line underground route (Bang Sue and Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae) will cost between 16 and 30 baht, against the normal rate of 16-42 baht, he said. 

The department's committee on rail fare structure development is scheduled to make the final decision on the proposed fare discounts on Friday, he said. 

"If they [the discounts] win approval by the committee, they will next be forwarded to the transport minister for final approval before they take immediate effect," he said. 

The proposals will then be piloted for three months starting from next month, he said. 

Mr Sarawut said the proposed discounts are believed to help boost the number of passengers on these selected routes by about 10%. 

A subsidy that will be required for this fare discount plan will likely come from tax revenues the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Finance Ministry collected from vehicles and other transportation-related taxes. 

This project will require between 500 million baht and 1 billion baht in subsidies, he said. The ministry is also planning to ask the Finance Ministry to allow income tax deductions for those who purchase at least 15,000 baht of electric rail tickets per year on any routes. 

The exact amount of the tax deduction will be established later.

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