SEPC rejects city bus operator’s call for fare adjustment

The State Enterprise Policy Committee (SEPC) has rejected the proposal of Bangkok Mass Transit Authority of Thailand (BMTA), the sole operator of bus service in Bangkok and suburban area, to raise its bus fares, claiming its high operational costs.

Mr Aekniti Nitithunprakas, director of the SEPC Office, said that the committee at its meeting on Friday decided to turn down the BMTA’s fare adjustment proposal and instructed the Transport Ministry to map out a long-term rehabilitation plan for the city’s bus operator along with long-term rehabilitation plans for State Railway of Thailand and Thai Airways International Plc.

Earlier, BMTA proposed an across-the-board two-baht fare increase from 6.50 baht to 8.50 baht for hot-air bus service and two additional baht for air-conditioned bus service.

While rejecting the BMTA’s proposed bus fare adjustment, the SEPC admitted that the real operational cost of the hot-air and air-conditioned bus services are 14 baht and 30 baht respectively which are much higher than the existing bus fares.

Mr Aekniti said the committee had acknowledged the BMTA’s plan to procure a fleet of 489 NGV buses and laid down guidelines for the bus service to correspondence with the bus route adjustment worked out by the Land Transport Department.

As for the SRT, the committee agreed that the SRT must set up subsidiary companies to operate the suburban rail route or the Red Line between Bang Sue and Rangsit and manage the maintenance of the route as well as another subsidiary firm to manage the SRT’s properties.

Mr Aekniti said the Transport Ministry was told by the committee to work out a long-term plan to solve the SRT’s chronic debt problem and to consider its fare rates.

As for THAI, the committee acknowledged that the national flag carrier’s revenue was still short of target although its average load factor was higher than that of the other airlines.

The committee has wanted THAI to speed up implementing revenue management system and network management system and control expenses whereas the Transport Ministry was told to draw up a long-term plan in relevant with the airline’s competition strategy.