Bangkok adds metro lines, but commuters find prices too high

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The capital of Thailand is improving its rail network, but the high fares of the new lines are causing some dissatisfaction among users.

People in Bangkok have more and more options for commuting to work.

The yellow line has recently been tested daily.

It starts from Lat Phrao Road, one of the most congested areas of the city, winds through Srinakharin Road, another area famous for its bottlenecks, and reaches the terminal station of Samrong, in the province of Samut Prakan. , over a total distance of 30.4 kilometres.

The Yellow Line, which has 23 stations, is Bangkok’s premier monorail system, which may pale in size compared to the BTS Skytrain and MRT metro rail system.

See: Bangkok’s Yellow Line monorail adds nine stations to its route

Many people of all ages rode the yellow line as transportation was free until July 1.

They looked excited and elated as the opening of a new transportation system gives them more choices for their daily commute, whether it’s to work, school or other places. other purposes.

On June 27, the government fixed the price of the ticket between 15 and 45 baht (0.39 to 1.17 euros).

Services will officially begin on July 3.

Pricing is causing some discontent and many believe it risks preventing more people from accessing services.

The average tariff in Thailand is much higher than what many other countries collect from users.

For example, train tickets in Bangkok are on average 20% more expensive than in Singapore.

Since the daily minimum wage in Thailand is just over 300 baht per day, it would be impossible for low earners to afford to commute every day.

High tariffs were a problem in the run-up to the May 14 general election.

Many political parties have made election promises to reduce tariffs.

Many critics believe that these promises will not be kept, citing the example of the outgoing government, which promised to make rail services more affordable for more users, but failed to do so.

Sumet Ongkittikul, research director for transport and logistics policy at the Thailand Development Research Institute, an independent think tank, said:

“The new government should review the concessions given to private companies or provide subsidies, otherwise the issue of high tariffs would remain unanswered.”

According to him, the average price of a trip between the suburbs of Bangkok and the heart of the city is around 90 baht (2.34 euros), because the passenger must take at least two train lines.

One of the factors that makes train fares expensive is that passengers have to pay a first entry fee when moving from one line to another, each with its own base fare.

The issue is how to remove the first entry charge and how private companies operating different routes could share fare revenue.

This is a complex issue that will take time to resolve, Sumet said.

The other question is how to get more people to use rail services instead of their own cars.

People always complain about the inconvenience of changing from one line to another, because the stations are not always very close to each other.

There are also complaints about the facilities.

For example, the number of elevators and escalators seems to be insufficient, which makes it difficult for the elderly or disabled to use rail services.

Woraphop Viriyaroj, an MP for the Move Forward party, assured that his party and the coalition parties that could form the new government were working on a plan to reduce the price of the electric train.

He declined to go into details, however, saying that if the coalition led by his party formed the new government, the reduction in the tariff would be announced publicly later.

Increase in the number of commuters

Sunset in Bangkok. Photo: Diliff

The governor of Bangkok, Chadchart Sittipunt, plans to set up a feeder system so that access to the rail network is less inconvenient for users.

He promised to deploy more buses to transport passengers from secondary roads to railway stations.

Today, many commuters take motorcycle taxis to get from their homes to train stations, which are on the main roads.

People accustomed to the comfort of their own car may be reluctant to give up this habit, as they find public transport less convenient.

Regulations to limit the number of cars that can enter the city limits may be needed to increase the use of public transport.

Over-indebtedness

Thai people are glued to their phones while waiting for the skytrain at Victory Monument station in Bangkok. Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya

The other key question is: will the new government agree to share the cost of extending the green line?

Currently, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has a debt of more than 120 billion baht for the investment in the expansion of the BTS Skytrain system.

Chadchart recently reported that the BMA is preparing to pay some of the outstanding debt to Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC), the operator of the BTS Skytrain.

The BMA could start collecting the fares for the extension from Mor Chit – Khu Khot and Bearing – Kheha stations, which could ease the financial burden, Sumet said.

Positive spinoffs

metro bangkok

Investment in the electric mass transit system has contributed to the growth of the green bond market.

BTS Group Holding is one of the leading private companies to have issued green bonds to finance investments aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Increased use of electric train services and fewer cars on the streets would help clean the air and help efforts to reduce global warming around the world.

The Ministry of Finance has also issued green bonds to finance public investment projects, taking into account sustainable development.

The new government may have to help local authorities in provincial towns to invest in the electric rail transport system, as major cities such as Phuket, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai are also suffering from traffic congestion.


Source: Thai PBS World

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