Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Bangkok bus service to be outsourced to private contractors for 7 years

Jun 08. 2020
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By THE NATION

Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) will this month open bidding for private contractors to operate city bus services, aiming to halt losses within seven years.

Minister of Transport Saksyam Chidchob said on Monday (June 8) that the State Enterprise Policy Office has approved the BMTA’s business restoration proposal and will present the plan to Cabinet this month. “Before the end of June, we expect BMTA to open the bidding for private contractors to handle its bus services under a seven-year concession contract,” he said. “The BMTA will pay only for bus rental, based on distance covered, while the contractors will be responsible for maintenance costs, staff wages, and necessary equipment.”

“The BMTA expects that without the maintenance burden, the organisation could achieve be profitable within the next seven years, or around the time the contract expires, at which time new contractors will be sourced,” said Saksyam.

He added that the BMTA is now struggling to meet costs of maintenance on old buses, with manufacturers already halting production of spare parts in some cases. “By renting the buses, the BMTA can boost liquidity without raising fares for customers,” he said. “Currently, the BMTA has 489 NGV [natural gas vehicle] buses – but it is planning to rent 2,511 EV [electric vehicle] buses from private contractors and pay the rent for them with income from bus fares.”

The BMTA will also propose new fare rates to the Cabinet, to help people during the Covid-19 crisis. The new rates for air-conditioned buses will be Bt30 per person per day (unlimited rides), changing from the current rate starting at Bt15-25 per person per ride. The elderly will be able to buy a daily bus pass for Bt15 instead of the current price of Bt30, while a monthly pass for students will cost Bt540 instead of Bt630, and the monthly pass for the general public will be reduced to Bt720 from Bt1,020.

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