Update July 2: City Hall said a 1.8 million baht fine intended for repeated BTS failures last month could not be imposed due to “conditions in the contract.”
BANGKOK — City Hall Wednesday said it will fine the BTS Skytrain’s operators almost 2 million baht in response to 19 service outages this month, while the company remains silent on how it will compensate affected commuters.
Trains seemed to be running smoothly Thursday morning and the popular rail network’s Twitter account fired off numerous tweets in Thai and English saying the system was back to normal. That did not seem to reassure anxious commuters, who after days of serial service disruptions have been calling for the revocation of the operating license.
The city administration said the company will be fined for its substandard service but said its contract could not be terminated.
Sakoltee Pattiyakul, a deputy Bangkok governor, said the company failed to maintain a standard of being on time at least 97.5 percent of the time during this month; therefore, it will be fined 1.8 million baht.
He added that the contract could not be altered because “there’s no clause in there that allows us to do so.”
The original 30-year contract granted the concession and operation to the Bangkok Mass Transit System company from 1999 to 2029. In 2012, then-Gov. Sukhumbhand Paribatra extended it another 30 years well before its expiration.
In 2013, the Department of Special Investigation indicted Sukhumbhand and his administration for executing the contract, saying it wasn’t lawful as the governor did not have the authority.
According to Sakoltee, BTS representatives said they would refund tickets and fares to passengers who did not wish to commute due to the disruptions. For passengers who had to wait for more than 30 minutes, the company said it would consider compensation “case by case” without further elaboration.
He did not say whether the company was planning to offer further compensation.
The glitches in the rail signaling system this week were blamed on radio signals from nearby buildings. The system, installed in 2009, uses the same frequency range as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices.
Takorn Tantasith, the nation’s top broadcasting regulator, said yesterday that his office ordered the BTS to move the system to another frequency range by Friday and resolve all problems by Saturday.
In the meantime, TOT and DTAC, which operate services near the same frequency range that is suspected of interfering with the trains’ operation, were also ordered to shut down competing signals along the route, Thakorn said. That could lead to a possible impact on their Wi-Fi offerings until the BTS finishes changing its signal receivers.
Surachet Sangchayosawat, BTS strategic planning director, said the company will start installing signal-blocking device on trains after the signaling system is moved to another frequency range, and it will take about a month to complete.