Train fares decision can wait: TCC

17-Apr-2021 Intellasia | BangkokPost | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The Thailand Consumers’ Council (TCC) has launched a campaign to halt the cabinet’s plan to rethink the extension of concessions and cheap fares on the BTS skytrain Green Line.

Saree Aongsomwang, secretary-general of the newly established consumer protection body, said reviewing the 30-year extension was not an urgent issue and the cabinet should first ask the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to provide details about its proposal.

The move follows reports the cabinet would review the lengthy concessionary status of the new electric train service and its capped fare hikes. The suggestion the cabinet was having second thoughts about the BTS Green Line concession and fares emerged last November after the government turned down the BMA’s request to renew the BTS Group’s favoured status.

The BMA wanted to offer the current operator a 30-year extension on its concession, currently due to 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. BTS Group had reportedly offered to freeze the fare cap at 65 baht and share the 200 billion baht in revenue with the state.

After the request was turned down, the BMA decided to raise the maximum fare on the whole 68.25-km stretch of the BTS Green Line to 158 baht, a 143 percent increase, before lowering its target to 104 baht. That hike is now on hold due to a public outcry and opposition from the transport ministry.

Ms Saree said the BMA had failed to provide details about how it arrived at its proposals for maximum fares. “Even though consumers and related state agencies like the transport ministry have tried, they can’t get an answer,” she said.

Ms Saree said people could sign a petition at the signature campaign will close on April 19 at 8am after that the names will be submitted to the prime minister’s Office.

With the current concession not expiring until 2029, it was essential to analyse the impact of fare hikes on passengers because, once approved, they would stay in place for almost 40 years, she said. “If the BMA executives can’t push the fares lower, they shouldn’t rush the issue and let a newly elected governor make the call,” said Ms Saree.

She said her own group’s proposed 25-baht flat-rate fare for the BTS system to make the electric mass railway system accessible to everyone was totally feasible.

Surapong Laoha-Unya, CEO of the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC), submitted a letter to the government on April 2 and a week later posted a video to the BTSSkyTrain Channel on YouTube and on trains telling passengers it was still waiting for a 30 billion-baht debt owed since from April 2017 to be paid.

If it remained unpaid passengers would suffer a disruption in its services, Surapong warned.


Category: Thailand

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