Proposal to cut electric train fare to 15-baht flat rate is nothing new
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob’s proposal to cut electric train fares to a 15 baht flat rate is just old wine in a new bottle to woo Bangkok voters. The same idea has suggested by almost every previous government since the Thaksin administration, more than a decade ago. It was always dropped as an idea because it could not be implemented without a heavy government subsidy, the source of which would be taxes.
BTSC, a subsidiary of BTS Group Holdings, operates the BTS skytrain under a concession awarded by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. It operates the Sukhumvit line from Mor Chit to Kheha and the Silom line which serves Silom and Sathorn roads, terminating at the National Stadium. Currently, the electric train fare starts at 15 baht and increases to a maximum of 44 baht for the entire route.
BEM or Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc, a private transport company, operates two metro lines and expressways.
Several commuters told Thai PBS that they welcomed the proposal as it would reduce their travelling cost, but they pointed out that the fare cut would mean the government would have to subsidize the service using tax revenue.
They noted, however, that the fare cut would encourage more people to switch, from buses or private cars, to electric trains and this would increase the revenue of the train operator.
Democrat party deputy leader Samart Ratchapolasit told Thai PBS that the fare cut of electric trains was one of the party’s election policies although, in actual practice, the policy might not be realized because the government would have to provide subsidies amounting to about 4 billion baht a year.