Transport Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit has promised to cut train fares on the Purple and Red lines to a maximum of 20 baht for the entire route within three months.
Responding to queries from MPs and senators about the Pheu Thai party’s pre-election promise to cut all the electric train fares in Bangkok and its suburbs to only 20 baht, Suriya said that the fare reduction could be done first, as a pilot project, on the two lines, which are operated by a state agency, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority.
The Purple line runs between Taopoon and Khlong Bang Phai, covering a distance of 23km and 16 stations. The fares currently start at 14 baht up to a maximum of 42 baht. The Red line is between Taling Chan and Rangsit, covering a distance of 41km and 13 stations. Fares currently start at 14 baht up to a maximum of 42 baht.
As for the other electric train lines, the minister said that, since they are operated by private concessionaires, the Transport Ministry will have to negotiate with them to reduce the fares, which could take up to six months.
As for the Green line, which is owned by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and operated by BTS under concession contracts because there are two extensions, Suriya said that the Transport Ministry is waiting for the BMA to solve its problems and is ready to provide support based on the “right principles”.
The Green line is rather more complicated. There are two phases of extension. The first phase is divided into two routes, from Taksin Bridge or Wongwian Yai station to Bang Wa station, and the other route from On Nut station to Bearing station. The BMA was responsible for the investment in infrastructure work, while BTS invested in installing operating systems and carriages. The BMA, during the governorship of M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, granted a 30-year concession to BTS to operate the two extension routes which is due to expire in 2042.
Problem became more complicated when MRT invested in the infrastructure of the second phase of extension – from Bearing station to Keha station in Samut Prakan and from Mor Chit to Khu Khot in Pathum Thani.
BTS was contracted to operate the two extension routes under the second phase, but it cannot collect train fares from passengers because there has been no agreement yet on the fares.
Altogether the BMA owes BTS and MRT an estimated 100 billion baht.