BTS fare pricing rises

UPDATES: The BMA confirmed on Saturday 16th January 2021 that their fare cap for the Sukhumvit line extension would be ฿104 (~USD3.46). The announcement sparked backlashes online from the netizens, requesting the BMA to pull the price down.

Thais Unhappy With BTS Prices
Screenshot: 1artie1, YounaChann

Translation: “BTS and MRT should not be limited to middle to upper classes”
“It’s like a robbery every time I took a train”

Mr. Kittiphan Panchan, Deputy Director General of the Rail Transport Department, condemned the BMA’s fares, claiming that he would send a letter demanding the suspension of the maximum fare ceiling. Transport Minister, Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, also urged the BMA to reconsider their decision. 

Bangkok Post reported that the Rail Transport Department and the BMA will be discussing a proper solution to the outstanding increasing of the BTS fares this week.

The Bangkok Mass Transit System’s (BTS) concession of the Sukhumvit Line extension to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) ends today, 15th January 2021. Now in charge, the BMA is trying to find a fair price per trip. The city’s proper calculation suggested a ฿158 (~USD5.26) maximum.

The city will announce the prices – which will come into effect on 16th February 2021- tomorrow 16th January 2021. 

The concession process

When a city initiates a public construction process, they can open the project up to a concession auction. During the auction, private organisations will propose necessary funds the city is required to put up – the city usually picks the lowest one for expense purposes. 

 extension line construction BTS
The construction of the Sukhumvit BTS line extension
Image credit: Prachachat

After a private organisation is picked, the city will start a joint-venture with the establishment for a time agreed in the contract, or “Concession period”. During this period, the private organisation will receive the previously agreed amount of funding to start construction.

The organisation then has to rely on its services to gain enough revenue to pay the city back its initial fund. After the organisation completely pays the city back, the rest of the income goes to them until the concession period ends. Following the end of the concession period, the service and/or property ownership will be transferred to the city.

The BMA ‘BTS’ debt

Mr. Asawin Kwanmuang, Bangkok’s governor, explained that the initial proposal was to extend the concession period and put the highest ticket price limited at ฿65 (~USD2.16) for the Sukhumvit Line. The price was not agreed upon due to the city’s debt to the Bangkok Mass Transit System. 

Bangkok Mass Transit CEO also announced that the BMA owes them ฿9 Billion (~USD300). According to the Bangkok Biz News, the BMA debt to the Bangkok Mass Transit System could be separated into three categories as follows.

  • Construction debt at ฿69,105 Million (~USD2301 Million)
  • Electrical and machine system debt at ฿20,248 Million (~USD675 Million) which is due on March 2021.
  • Operation debt at ฿9,377 (~USD312 Million) 

According to the governor, pricing the tickets at ฿158 (~USD5.26) still causes the city to lose money. 

The Sukhumvit line extension

The Sukhumvit Line extension ranges from Mo Chit Station to Khukot Station. 19 extension stations were added in 2019, which an average of 25,444 passengers ride daily. The fare price is ฿59 (~USD1.96) for all stations in the extension, which means that the fare will increase by 167% if the city insists on a ฿158 (~USD5.26) ceiling.

Almost half of the minimum wage

The new fare structure is sad news for Bangkokians because it takes almost half of Bangkok’s minimum wages, which is ฿313 (~USD10.43) a day. This means that most people who live along the Sukhumvit line extension wouldn’t be able to afford roundtrips to the city centre, as they will not have any money left for food and other essentials.

You can read more on Bangkok related articles here:

Featured image adapted from: eventpop

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