Bangkok’s transit bombshell: BTSC to back 20 baht train rides but at what cost?

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company (BTSC) is poised to back the government‘s bold move to limit train fares to a mere 20 baht on the city’s suburban rail network. However, there is a catch.

BTSC CEO Keeree Kanjanapas revealed yesterday that this support comes with a crucial condition – the government must engage in talks with train operators to address the impending financial burden.

BTSC’s subsidiary, the Northern Bangkok Monorail, clinched the concession for the Pink Line, currently undergoing trial runs until December 18. This development was inaugurated by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Transport Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit, who undertook a non-stop ride from Min Buri to Wat Phra Sri Mahathat station, completing the journey in just half an hour.

The 61 year old Thai PM lauded the convenience brought by BTS Group Holdings, kicking off with the Green Line sky train service.

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While expressing the company’s desire for affordable train services, Keeree highlighted the absence of talks with the government on compensating operators if fares are capped at 20 baht. Operators have invested heavily in rail projects, expecting returns on their investments.

Adding to the intrigue, Keeree urged the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to settle a colossal debt owed to BTSC for installing operating systems and covering costs for the Green Line’s two extensions, which have operated without charging passengers for years. BMA’s plan to impose a 20 baht fee on these extensions from mid-January aims to generate revenue to settle its debt with BTSC, reported Thai PBS World.

Keeree clarified that while BTSC cannot influence the BMA’s fare decisions or timing, the company anticipates due payment for operating the two extensions, covering their investments and operating costs.

In related BTS news, a 31 year old Cambodian woman was arrested for stealing a mobile phone from a South Korean passenger on the BTS Skytrain in Bangkok. The woman admitted to selling the stolen Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra for 1,500 baht. Read more about this story HERE.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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