Bangkok’s BTS skytrain maximum fare rate is being raised to 158 baht despite receiving backlash over the hike. The Transport Ministry is behind the calls for City Hall to stop the increase as it says it is too expensive for the average commuter who takes the BTS 2 times a day. Saksayam Chidchob, the Transport Minister, says other routes should be explored before increasing the costs for commuters.
“The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration should halt its policy on new BTS maximum fare and wait for other authorities to find proper solutions.”
The BMA and Transport Ministry were jointly appointed to set the fare’s ceiling in 2018, but it appears the BMA is now taking control of the new price hike. The BMA and Interior Ministry were previously responsible for granting concessions for the skytrain’s operation but the Transport Ministry is also part of the reviewing committee for extending the concessions and overall investments in the country’s mass transit system.
But deals are being made by the BMA that appear to ignore the Transport Ministry’s equal role in making decisions and the ministry says such actions are breaching co-investment laws. It isn’t the first time the BMA has made decisions without the Transport Ministry’s joint approval.
Before the new hike in fares, it previously extended concessions to the current Bangkok Mass Transit System in order to keep the fare ceiling at 65 baht. Now, making a new deal that would see passengers paying more than double in total fares across the skytrain system is being seen as pushing the envelope.
What is not clear is why the fares are being hiked when the country is suffering economically due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though the new maximum is set to rollout on February 16, Bangkok’s governor has offered to bring the new maximum down to 104 for a short period of time in consideration of the recent Covid outbreak.
But even increasing the fare to 104 baht is being widely opposed. The secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution says even the discounted rate is too expensive for daily commuters. And, the date for the discount ending has not been announced.