BTS extension fee could soar to 158 baht over talks delay, governor warns

The fare to ride the Green Line extension of Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain could more than double to 158 baht, the city governor said Friday, citing stalled negotiations over how to handle the upcoming end to waived fees on those stretches of the route.

Governor Asawin Kwanmuang said the higher price might be necessary if no agreement can be found after the current fare waiver expires Friday. Any price hike must be announced 30 days in advance.

The new extensions at either end of the Green Line, from Mochit to Khukhot and Bearing to Samutprakarn, have been available to passengers for no extra charge since December 15. A basic single-journey fare in central Bangkok is capped at 44 baht.  

Operating parties have been negotiating an extended fare for the new routes. Analysts had expected this to be set at 65 baht. It was not clear whether the higher fee for riding the extension would include travel on the central part of the route.

The operator Bangkok Mass Transit System told Thai Enquirer that it has not received notice from the governor about any price adjustment for the extension. “The further information will be revealed from the company if there’s any development,” it said.

There have been around 124,444 trips per day on the extension north of the Lad Phrao intersection since it went into service. However, the new wave of Covid-19 outbreak has reduced the daily number to 80,000 trips.

A price of 158 baht (US$5.25) would put considerable pressure on commuters, in a country where minimum wage is around 330 baht per day. The economic crisis from the Covid-19 has caused household debt to surge to its highest level in 12 years, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, amid high costs of living and lay-offs.

Parin Kitchatornpitak, an analyst at KGI Securities, expected that the government would reconsider the issue and keep a maximum ticket price of 65 baht for the Green Line extension to be accepted by related parties.

“We are neutral on the news as BTS Rail Mass Transit Growth Infrastructure (BTSGIF) realizes revenue from maintenance and operation of the Green Line extension,” said Parin.

Currently, KGI has maintained a rating of ‘Outperform’ with a 12-month target price of 13.50 baht per share.

Shares of BTS Group Holding (BTS) traded at 9.75 baht per share on mid-day, equal to its opening price, with a transaction value of 91.1 million baht.

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