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No more free bus and train rides in Bangkok

No more free bus and train rides in Bangkok

A 10 year old government scheme that allowed Bangkok residents free rides on buses and trains will come to an end at the end of this month, says government.

The government will terminate the free bus and train ride scheme end of this month after having been introduced for almost a decade.

The scheme had been extended 23 times since it was first implemented in August 2008 during the Samak Sundravej administration, or almost 10 years ago.

Throughout the 10-year period the scheme cost the state 37.3 billion baht budget to subsidise the two state enterprises that operate bus and train services free for the people.

Breakdown of the cost was 28 billion baht for bus service, and 9.3 billion baht for train service.

State Railway of Thailand deputy governor Thanongsak Pongprasert said the state enterprise obtained 1-2 billion baht subsidy a year from the government despite the fact that the operation costs of the free service was 3 billion baht a year.

He admitted that the scheme did not really fully serve the intention of the state to help low income earners.

But the introduction of welfare cards in train rides will fully fulfill the government’s intention.

He said, “the SRT wasn’t allowed to increase fares for 20 years which was lower than operation cost.”

Meanwhile the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority said it’s operation cost is 2.9 billion baht a year, or 8 million baht a day for the shuttle services of its 800 buses with 600,000 passengers a day.

By November 1, low-income earners can use their smartcards to travel on bus and train for 500 baht a month.

Source: PBS