Flat-rate fares get big thumbs-up

Flat-rate fares get big thumbs-up

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, third from left, rides the Pink Line electric train at the start of its trial period on Nov 21. (Photo: VARUTH HIRUNYATHEB)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, third from left, rides the Pink Line electric train at the start of its trial period on Nov 21. (Photo: VARUTH HIRUNYATHEB)

The Thailand Consumer Council (TCC) has demanded the Transport Ministry cap the fare for the mass rapid transit system at 20 baht.

During the seminar on the 20-baht flat train rate, Saree Aungsomwang, secretary-general of the TCC, said on Saturday the TCC is planning to push its petition for a lower flat rate until it succeeds in the effort.

She said that research carried out by the council shows that the takings from a 20-baht flat rate would be sufficient to cover the operating costs of the electric train route.

The flat rate can also help with environmental pollution by making public transport more accessible, as figures show that only 25% of Thai consumers use public transport.

"The TCC is encouraging public transport among commuters but ticket costs should be less than 10% of a minimum wage (about 350 baht in Bangkok) so we will keep pushing for a 20-baht cap," said Ms Saree.

Kongsak Cheunkrailart, assistant secretary of the TCC's transport subcommittee, said a survey of 2,500 commuters on the new Pink Line service, which is free to ride until Jan 5, found that most wanted a flat rate, similar to those being applied on the Red and Purple Lines.

In the survey, 69.8% said the flat rate would help reduce travel expenses and encourage more people to use the service.

About 55% of the participants said fares of 15 baht to 45 baht for the Pink Line when it goes commercial next month are too pricey.

They also agreed that a flat rate ideally should be no more than 27 baht.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Consumer Network, as a representative of the electric railway users, also expressed the view that one price might encourage more use of public transport.

Atiphu Jittanukrao, deputy director-general of the Department of Rail Transport (DRT), said the number of passengers on both the Red and Purple lines increased immediately following the introduction of revised pricing on Oct 16.

However, drastically lower revenue, from 660,000 to 500,000 baht a day for the Red Line and from 1,000,000 baht to 600,000 baht for the Purple Line, is something the DRT needs to consider too, he said.

To drive the flat rate policy, a committee must study all proposals and invite TCC members to participate, he said.

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