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BMTA eyes revised plan to save Bt10 billion

Agency, passengers, motorists all stand to gain if buses rented rather than purchased

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) will next month consider a revised business-rehabilitation plan that could save the agency Bt10 billion.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the idea is to rent 3,000 buses from the private sector rather than purchasing them, and covering the rental fees with fares adjusted by distance.

The revision was made after the ministry and BMTA agreed that the original business-rehabilitation plan approved by the Cabinet last June would bring only short-term profits before a return to a loss cycle.

Saksayam said the revised plan, once approved by BMTA directors, would spend less than a month at his ministry before moving on to the Cabinet.

Saksayam was speaking at a workshop on the plan held at the ministry on Wednesday (January 15).

He said the revision would ensure a sustainable solution to chronic BMTA losses and reduce the cost of living for passengers, who’ll be able to purchase daily tickets for unlimited use.

It would also cut back on air pollution and ease traffic jams by eliminating redundant bus routes while feeding commuters into other mass transit systems.

BMTA chief Surachai Iamvachirasakul said the revised plan’s main point was to switch from procuring 3,000 new buses and repairing existing vehicles to renting an entirely new fleet.

It will hopefully reduce maintenance costs, which currently reach Bt50 per kilometre, and the rented buses would be mainly air-conditioned and environmentally friendly, with hybrid, electrical and natural gas engines, he said.

Both the Bt30 daily ticket to be sold and the monthly ticket would offer unlimited rides.

Surachai said the revised plan has a price tag of Bt16.4 billion – some Bt10 billion cheaper than the Bt27.2 billion cost of the original.

The BMTA would eliminate redundancy to slashing the number of routes from 269 to 104, he said, and offer licences and concessions to private operators to run buses at the same Bt30 per day fare charged by the BMTA.

This would maximise benefits for the public and reduce traffic congestion.

Companies uninterested in participating could continue to charge fares of Bt15-Bt25.

The revised plan would also encourage the use of GPS and e-ticket systems, while conductors could take early retirement if they wish with appropriate compensation, Surachai said.

And the Bang Khen and Minburi bus maintenance depots could lease commercial space to bring in extra revenue.

 

 

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