MRTA Expects To Transfer Green Line Debt to City Hall by September

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA)’s governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas said an agreement to transfer debt from the Green Line extension to City Hall is expected to be in place by September.

The MRTA expects to sign an agreement to resolve the longstanding problem when the current fiscal year ends on September 30 once the cabinet approves the plan.

The announcement was made after the agency met with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), the Transport Ministry, and the deputy permanent secretary for transport, Sorapong Paitoonphong, to discuss the debt.

The MRTA built two sections of the Green Line, from Bearing to Kheha stations and from Mo Chit to Khu Khot stations, in 2018 before the cabinet transferred the project’s financial responsibility to the City Hall.

The Green Line’s original section was owned by the BMA and operated by Skytrain operator BTS Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC).

However, the MRTA still has to pay BTSC some 53.32 billion baht for the civil engineering work the company carried out on two extensions and the debt interests. The agency’s chief said the sum would reach 54.28 billion baht by late September.

The unresolved debt has put longer-term decisions on the Green Line on hold, with the Interior Ministry pushing to extend the project’s concession.

But the debt transfer agreement must first be approved by the BMA, the Interior Ministry and the Transport Ministry before being sent to the cabinet.

Mr. Pakapong said it would take about two months before the City Hall brings the bill up for debate, as the new councilors were elected in May.

But more difficult challenges could emerge despite the debt being formally transferred to the BMA. The Interior Ministry has proposed clearing the BMA debt as a condition for extending the BTSC concession on the original Green Line section for a further 30 years after it expires in 2029.

However, the Transport Ministry and Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt oppose the plan, rejecting the 65-baht fare suggested by the Interior Ministry and arguing that the City Hall would not benefit from the 30-year concession extension due to the Skytrain’s high fares for low-income people.