Pheu Thai to oppose fare hike plan
The opposition Pheu Thai Party will petition the government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to suspend a plan to raise the fare ceiling on the BTS skytrain Green Line electric train from 65 baht to 104 baht which is scheduled to take effect on Feb 16.
Yuttapong Charasathien, Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, said yesterday he will lodge the petition against the fare hike with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang tomorrow.
He said the maximum fare of 104 baht is too expensive for daily commuters who use it twice every day. A return trip will cost passengers 208 baht when the daily wage in Bangkok is only 331 baht.
The BMA announced the fare hike last week and triggered wide opposition, including the Transport Ministry. The planned increase was initially 158 baht but was lowered to 104 baht to ease the burden on city commuters during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Mr Yuttapong also called on the government and the BMA to work together to set appropriate fares so they do not cause commuters financial hardship.
The Pheu Thai MP said the proposed fare hike will be included in an upcoming no-confidence debate against the government expected next month.
A representative from the Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC), the operator of the BTS skytrain Green Line, was spotted at Mr Yuttapong's press conference.
Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, however, said yesterday that even though the Bhumjaithai Party, which is in charge of the Transport Ministry, disagrees with the fare hike and the proposed concession extension of the BTS system, the issue has no merit to be discussed at the planned no-confidence debate.
He insisted the proposed concession for the BTSC has yet to be considered by the cabinet.
The issue of the BTS Green Line fares emerged in November last year after the government turned down the BMA's request to renew the concession of the BTS Group.
The BMA wanted to offer the current operator a 30-year extension on its concession, which will expire in 2029, to operate the core section of the Green Line between Mor Chit-On Nut and National Stadium-Saphan Taksin, in exchange for the BTSC shouldering the BMA's debts of almost 100 billion baht.