BANGKOK — The capital’s rapid bus transit system will continue moving passengers through southern Bangkok – at a higher fare – after it won a stay of execution from the governor Monday.
After weeks of will-they-won’t-they suspense for the roughly 25,000 daily commuters who rely on the service, Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang announced the Bangkok BRT won’t be scrapped, but its fares increased to 15 baht.
“Bangkok will continue to run the BRT buses, but we are still negotiating the details about who will operate it,” Aswin said. “If the city canceled the service, then what about the 1.5 billion we invested in it? … We would have to replace the buses running for the BRT with BMTA buses.”
The flat fare has also been increased from 5 baht to 15 baht, which Aswin said will bring in an estimated 90 million baht to city coffers.
The BRT’s operating concession was set to end in April, at which point the city last month threatened it would be canceled due to reported annual losses of 200 million baht. It wasn’t the first time the city had signaled it might end the service, and the announcement was roundly criticized.
The BRT is owned by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and has been managed by the Bangkok Mass Transit System, which also operates the BTS Skytrain, since it launched in 2010.
City Hall soon began signalling that it was reconsidering and published a survey earlier this month that showed support for the service – and a fare increase.
City officials said they are weighing several offers to change up the management to cut costs. Khon Kaen University offered to manage the buses for free, while the BTS Group, who has managed the 16-kilometer line between stops on Sathon and Ratchapruek roads, said it could get annual operating costs below the 200 million baht agreed to when the system opened in 2010.
Aswin made it clear he still wants to negotiate.
“That is a bit steep for managing buses. I won’t accept unless it’s under 170 million a year,” Aswin said Monday.