BMA mulls charging fares on Green Line extension

BMA mulls charging fares on Green Line extension

Commuters on the BTS Green Line board the skytrain at Khu Khot BTS station in Bangkok. (File photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Commuters on the BTS Green Line board the skytrain at Khu Khot BTS station in Bangkok. (File photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The city council has suggested the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) collect fares on two extensions of the Sukhumvit Line as a stopgap until the proposed extension of the concession on the main section is finalised.

The suggestion came at a Wednesday meeting when city councillor Teerasak Nguanbanchong asked BMA executives for an update on the two electric rail extensions — Mo Chit-Saphan Mai-Khu Khot and Bearing-Samut Prakan-Kheha.

Currently, services on the two extensions are free of charge and without revenue, City Hall is unable to service debts of about 12 billion incurred since hiring Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) to operate the train services in April 2017.

Chayawuth Siriyutwattana, another city councillor, said the executives should take steps to address its debt problems by charging riders to use the two extensions.

He said collecting fares should help the BMA manage its debts while it waits for the cabinet to approve its plan to extend the concession on the main section of the Green Line to BTSC. The current concession is due to expire in 2029. The BMA is understood to have offered a 30-year extension in exchange for the BTSC shouldering its debts of almost 100 billion baht. 

The BTSC is said to have offered to keep the fare ceiling at 65 baht and share a portion of its revenues. 

According to Mr Chayawuth, the BMA has to prevent its debts from growing.

His suggestion was welcomed by several colleagues. However, some councillors argued the BMA should consider returning the two extensions to state control.

They were originally owned by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority before being transferred to the BMA, which already owns the main section.

Deputy Bangkok governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul said the BMA's business arm, Krungthep Thanakhom, is reviewing fare rates following complaints from passengers and other state agencies.

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