Consumer Council rips skytrain fares

Consumer Council rips skytrain fares

The Thailand Consumer Council opposes the new fare plan for extensions of the BTS Green Line, saying costlier transport will further aggravate people's financial burdens.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on Monday said it planned to start charging fares on Green Line extensions ranging from 14 to 44 baht.

Kongsak Chuenkrailas, a member of the council's subcommittee on transport and vehicles, said this is too expensive for many low-income workers, who depend on the skytrain to commute to work.

The fare for each of these extensions will start from 14 baht and increase by two baht per station, with the maximum rate per extension capped at 44 baht. This could rise to a single-journey fare of up to 59 baht if the travel route goes beyond one of these sections, he said.

The Green Line extensions include the new northern and southern sections of the Sukhumvit Lines, including 16 stations from Mo Chit to Khu Khot and nine stations from Bearing to Samut Prakan. The train services on these two sections have been running free of charge since they opened almost two years ago.

Considering the Green Line extensions are major transport routes for many low-income workers who reside in suburban areas and travel into the city, Mr Kongsak said the fares would be overly burdensome.

For example, a return trip that hits the 59-baht cap each way would equate to over a third, or 36%, of the minimum daily wage.

He said the ideal rate should not exceed 10% of the minimum wage and urged the BMA to abandon its fare plan.

"The Consumer Council and the public have high expectations of the new Bangkok governor who promised to deny the BTS Green Line concession contract extension and keep the skytrain accessible to all," Mr Kongsak said.

"An affordable fare for riding any of the Green Line extensions would be 10 to 15 baht."

Deputy Bangkok governor Wisanu Subsompon insisted the new fare scheme is both fair and final, adding it will be ratified and announced within the next two weeks.

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