Consumer protection groups on Monday urged the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) to join their call for the cabinet not to consider a proposal seeking to extend the Green Line concession for another 30 years.
The groups said the proposed extension, which would see fares per trip on the Green Line capped at their current ceiling of 65 baht, would keep Bangkok's electric train system unaffordable for the average citizen.
According to the groups, their call for cheaper fares is reasonable and based on studies into its viability and the issue should be left to the new Bangkok governor to decide upon.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), owner of the Green Line, had granted the concession to Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) to operate the service until 2029.
Their petition was accepted by MFP secretary-general Chaitawat Tulathon, deputy leader Surachet Praweenwongwut and would-be governor candidate Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn.
Mr Chaitawat said the MFP agreed with the groups' demand that the concession proposal should be decided by the new governor and the new cabinet. He said the Bangkok governor contest is expected to take place soon while the government has just one year left in office.
"If the extension is approved now, the public will get their hands tied for another 30 years and we lose an opportunity to do a thorough review of the concession contract. We hope the issue isn't on tomorrow's cabinet agenda," he said.
Mr Wiroj said the proposal should not be used to further delay the gubernatorial race as city residents need a new governor to protect their interests.
He also cast doubts about transparency in the process, saying the BMA's management appeared reluctant to provide details about the concession extension proposal.
The issue was withdrawn from the Feb 9 cabinet agenda following the absence of ministers from the coalition Bhumjaithai Party which opposed the extension proposal. The Transport Ministry also sought clarification which the Interior Ministry had yet to provide, so further discussion had to be postponed.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said he has no idea if the Green Line proposal will be considered by the cabinet at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.
However, he said the BMA which is under the supervision of the Interior Ministry has already sent its clarification. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday as far he is aware the issue is not on today's cabinet agenda. He said the key issue is to ensure that the service is accessible at a reasonable fare.