Bangkok Governor Candidates Oppose Concession Extension for Green Line

The four candidates running for Bangkok’s governor have vehemently opposed the plan to extend the concession for the Green Line’s core Skytrain sections.

The Interior Ministry and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) have proposed extending the Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) concession, set to expire in 2029, for another 30 years.

In an online discussion organized by the Thailand Consumers Council on February 14, the BMA and the Interior Ministry said the concession extension would include rail sections Mo Chit – On Nut and National Stadium – Taksin Bridge. However, the Transport Ministry under the Bhumjaithai Party and coalition partner opposed the plan.

Also, Chadchart Sittipunt, Rosana Tositrakul, Suchatvee Suwansawat and Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, who competed for the top BMA seat, criticized the increase from the current 59 baht to 65 baht per trip, saying it was too expensive.

All four candidates also criticized the proposal to transfer the construction costs of the Green Line extensions, Bearing – Kheha and Mo Chit – Khu Khot stations, from the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) to the BMA.

Independent candidate Ms. Rosana claimed that the reason behind the concession extension had been the BMA’s inability to pay its debts, which are estimated to be over 30 billion baht owed to BTSC for train operations and 70 billion baht for construction costs owed to MRTA.

She said that the government should not grant concessions to the private sector and vowed to transfer the Green Line to the central government through the MRTA if she becomes governor. Ms. Rosana said she would maintain the maximum entrance fare at 40-45 baht for all networks.

Mr. Chadchart seconded Ms. Rosana’s comments and suggested returning the Green Line’s ownership to the central government. He also said that the BMA should speed up negotiations with the BTSC to tackle the debt accumulated for setting up the system and holding its operations.

The independent candidate also said that the government should start charging fares for the northern and southern extension, using all Green Line sections to generate income to set the fare per trip at 25-30 baht. Mr. Chadchart asked authorities to disclose BMA-BTSC’s train operating contract conditions.

Move Forward Party candidate Mr. Wiroj disagreed with the proposal to transfer the Green Line’s ownership to the MRTA, citing past problems transferring public bus service to the Transport Ministry and arguing that the BMA should not bear the construction cost. He has also demanded that the proposals be made public and pledged to keep the Skytrain fare at 20-25 baht if he becomes governor.

Suchatvee, the Democrat Party candidate, agreed with Mr. Wiroj in leaving the Green Line in the hands of the BMA and said that the MRTA should bear the construction cost. He also suggested that the BMA issue infrastructure bonds to raise funds and pay off the debt to BTSC.