Master Plan News 2004-2005

This section contains news of the Master Plan, overall Bangkok development, the Bangkok Governor's development plans, and articles about interconnecting mass transit projects.

Mass Transit News main page

MFC coming up with a financing plan for 7 lines of mass transit - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, February 22, 2005
MFC is coming up with a financing plan for 7 lines of mass transit with a price tag of 410 billion baht.
Government budget for infrastructure: 80 billion baht
Private concession on rolling stock assembly line: 130 billion baht
Open bidding for land leasing: 40-50 billion baht
Revenue bond from license and fuel tax: 40-50 billion baht
Property funds from land development (done by the Treasury Department): 80-100 billion baht
Land development by Treasury Department will be handled at the following stations:
1) Makkasan
2) Bang Sue
3) Queen Sirikit National Convention Center
4) Hua Lamphong
5) National Stadium
6) Port Authority land in Klong Toei
All to be done according to the examples from Hong Kong MRT, Singapore MRT, and the Tokyo Metro.
The new rate for the joint ticket system will be 10 baht + (2 x number of stations)--capped at 50 baht maximum for the route from Mahachai to Rangsit.

Investment plan for megaprojects - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, February 20-23, 2005
MOTC has come up with three sources for the 400 billion baht investment on mass transit system with 174 billion baht investment on rolling stock.
1) budget -> 5% -> 10% -> 15% investment, up to 50 billion baht/year - total 300 billion baht in 6 years
2) capitalization by developing the land along mass transit routes to create another source of revenue
3) securitization
Infrastructure will be handled by the government while the government will invite foreign investors to set up rolling stock assembly lines in Thailand and make studies of two new lines:
1) Minburi - Suvannabhum
2) Bang Kapi - Pak Nam
Foreign investors will invest on the local assembly of rolling stocks with a price tag of 174 billion baht with long term concession and support from BOI.
The government will hire the private sector to handle the service instead of granting a concession so as to minimize the operating cost and ticket prices.
The government will also come up with an e-auction as the way to cut collusion costs by 15% which have shown success in minimizing the cost for CDMA biddings. Now procurement with price tags of more than 2 million baht are required to be handled by e-auction.

BMA pushing smart card system for Skytrain and Subway as well as the upcoming BRT - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, February 14, 2005
Dr. Samart Rajpolasit told the press that BMA is going to cooperate with BTS and MRTA to come up with a joint ticket system with smart cards between BTS Skytrain and MRTA Subway with a revenue sharing scheme according to the traveling distance.
This smart card system will be also used for BRT systems which will function as feeder lines to cover the lines not served by BTS.

Suriya wants taxes to ensure a 15 baht flat rate for the Subway & insists that he will never give up the plan to nationalize the Skytrain - translated and summarized from Thai Post, November 5, 2004
Minister Suriya said he will need funds from Bangkokians to invest in new lines of the Subway. Minister Suriya also Insists that he will never give up the plan to nationalize BTS & BMCL since Premier Thaksin never asked Suriya to stop the nationalization scheme. He said Premier Thaksin has given a green light for him to do so and he expects that Premier Thaksin is not a flip-flop man as those corespondents from Than Setthakij have claimed.
Suriya also claims the average ticket price for the Skytrain/Subway will be lowered from 20 baht (from 30 day passes of BTS) to 15 baht.
Suriya claimed that BMTA (buses) is 5 billion baht loss a year while BTS (Skytrain) has revenue of 2 billion baht a year and the Subway has the estimated revenue of 1 billion baht despite much less coverage than BMTA buses. Therefore the nationalization of BTS/BMCL will enable both systems to gain more passengers despite a 15 baht flat rate ticket price and less subsidies to BMTA.

Earlier: MASS TRANSIT NATIONALIZATION CANCELED - Premier Thaksin stuns Suriya by revoking the plan for Skytrain-Subway nationalization - Than Setthakij, November 4-6, 2004

Thai-language guides - November 10, 2004
Wisarut point out: Travel Guide for BTS Skytrain and Travel Guide for MRTA Subway

On the forums - November 6, 2004
Wisarut points out this MThai thread on comparisons between BTS Skytrain and MRTA Subway.

Suriya opposing the plan to raise VAT from 7% to 8% to fund mass transit expansion - translated and summarized from Matichon, November 5, 2004 and Manager Daily, November 4, 2004
MOF, Budget Bureau, and MOTC are discussing the plan to finance the 500 billion baht mass transit system with a total distance of 291 km to be done in 6 years.
MOF is proposing the extra 1% of VAT but Minister Suriya opposes the VAT rise which will hurt overall consumption even though the extra percent would fill government coffers with 40 billion baht more tax revenue per year. More budget for MOTC and an extra excise tax on private cars would be fine for him.
At least, the budget for MOTC must be allocated at the level which is at par with the level before the 1997 economic meltdown--up 10% of the national budget. At that time, there was 80-90 billion baht allocated to MOTC and MOTC allocated 40 billion baht for basic infrastructure. However, the budget for MOTC was cut after 1997. At least, MOTC should have 200-300 billion baht for infrastructure in 6 years after the readjustment.
A transportation fund must be set up by using the extra excise tax on the new cars from the current 30,000-50,000 baht/car to the level before the tax cut. This will add 30-50 billion baht per year into transportation funds since the number of car is going to increase from 600,000 to 1 million cars.

Thai forumers comment on Suriya - November 1, 2004
Wisarut reports: Many netters comment on the hypocricy of Transport Minister Suriya here, here, and here.
Government to punish Skytrain: no extensions, no connections to other systems - October 28, 2004

The BMA-SRT feud: BMA is studying BTS extensions despite complaints from MOTC about overlapping projects - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, October, 18, 2004
MOTC is complaining that some of the proposed six BTS Skytrain projects studied by BMA have been overlapping SRT projects as well as the 6-year masterplan. They ask BMA to handle only the well-being of Bangkokians instead of messing around with mass transit systems.
BMA told SRT that the system overlapping on SRT land will be a system not the same as one used by SRT. Suvannabhum Airport Link and a modernized Mahachai line will have stations every 4-5 km while BMA claimed that the BTS route to Suvannabhum and Mahachai will have a station every 1-2 km--thus, they will have very different purposes.
BMA even claimed that the construction of the Skytrain is still a duty of BMA although MOTC is going to nationalize the BTS Skytrain.
OTP said BMA has full rights to make such studies, but all the plans must follow the guide line of the 6-year masterplan and it requires cabinet approval on those routes, especially the route to suburbs beyond BMA city limits. BMA should come up with the extensions only after the nationalization of BTS.
There are six routes under studies:
1) Saphan Taksin - Talad Ploo - Mahachai
2) Onnut - NBIA
3) Bang Na - BITEC - Wat Sri Lam branch line
4) Charansanitwongse (Prannok) - Pinklao - Sanam Luang - National Stadium
5) Mochit - Saphan Mai
6) Onnut - Samrong Samut Prakarn
Commentary by Wisarut: The feud between BMA and SRT is not a surprise at all since BMA refuses to pay any a single stang on the rent of Chatuchak Weekend Market--despite their long term occupation of SRT land. No wonder, SRT is looking down upon BMA as "a blood sucker" that does not deserve to construct a mass transit system along SRT tracks and land.
BMA wants to create their own fiefdom without giving any regard to the central government which is definitely a legacy leftover from [previous Bangkok Governor] Samak. That is why they will have head-on collision with MOTC on a regular basis. Furthermore, Governor Samak wanted to please his cronies. The moribund Corn Cob apartments on his friend's land is a good example [The corn cob apartments were a folksy scheme to design low-cost housing along the pattern of a corn cob]. The route from Onnut to NBIA as well as the section from Saphan Mai to Luum Lookka looks like another example of cronyism. The first one for those members of the defunct Prachakornthai party and the second one is for those supporters in RTAF--many of them are ultraconservative.
Mass transit lines deserve to go along the route with high concentrations of people. The section from Bangyai to Bangsue has been approved due to the high grown of suburb villages while I can see very few villages along the road from Khookhot to Lum Lookka.
SRT will respond back to BMA that "they can set electrified railway stations and stops in every 1-2 km since they have done such a thing to the Paknam Railway and the sections from Bangbon to Klong Sarn.
Therefore, the most likely approved lines will be:
1) The Branch Line (Bang Na - Wat Sri Lam)--deserves to be an extension to NBIA more than the Onnut - NBIA line. This is not a surprise at all since the route along Bang NA - Bang Pakong Highway is the place for Ramkhamhaeng University (Bangna Campus) and the Nation Group. Governor Samak had very strong hostilities--if not outright hatred--toward those progressive people from the Nation Group and Ramkhamhaeng University.
2) Northern extensions (Mochit - Saphan Mai)
3) Southern extension (Onnut - Samrong - Paknam)
4) Rattanakosin extension (National Stadium - Sanam Luang - Pinklao - Phran Nok)

Bus Rapid Transit route rivalry: BMA vs. OTP - October 25, 2004
Wisarut reports: The two maps are from Than Setthakij (October 14-16, 2004 and October 21-23, 2004) showing the rivalry on BRT plan between BMA vs. OTP. This conflicts will tun into an explosive issue sooner or later. There are five routes which are bones of contention:
1) Route 3 - Minburi - Bang Kapi - Lum Salee - Sri Nakharin - Samut Prakarn
2) Route 5 - Bang Bon - Rama 2 - Wong Wian Yai
3) Route 6 - Kanchanaphisek - Rama 5 Bridge - Ngam Wongwan - Kaset
4) Route 7 - Highway 3100 - Prapa Canal - Rama 5 Road - Phisanuloke - Yommaraj
5) Rotue 9 - Pakkret - Chaeng Watthana - Ram Indra - Kanna Yao - Nawamin - Bang Kapi

Finding investors for mass transit plans - translated and summarized from Prachachat Thurakij, October 14, 2004 and Matichon Daily, October 13, 2004
MFC Funds (from MFC Securities PCL) is trying to pursue wealthy Middle Easterners to invest in their funds so as to finance the 400 billion baht mass transit system.

Dusit poll says Bangkokians support nationalization of BMCL and BTSC - translated and summarized from Dailynews, October 14, 2004
MRTA Governor said the poll conducted by Rajabhat Dusit [Dusit Poll] said that after collecting data from 3413 passengers from all 18 subway stations from August 9-20, 2004 they have the following results:
1) Most said they are very satisfied with Subway services
2) The largest number of people like the environment within and around Subway stations
3) Next they like ticket purchasing and inspection, Subway facilities, internal PR within the stations, security, and internal service of the Subway
4) Top 5 stations for service are (1) Huay kwang, (2) Lumphinee, (3) Kamphaengphet, (4) QSNCC, (5) Bangsue
5) Top 5 most frequent used stations are (1) Chatuchak Park (2) Lad Phrao (3) Phaholyothin (4) Hua Lamphong (5) Suthisarn
6) 62.32% said the nationalization of BMCL is a big must to cut ticket prices, impose price controls, run better service with direct revenue to government coffers. The system should be for the direct welfare of people and the government is capable of running the system.
7) 85.32% said the joint ticketing system between BTSC and BMCL is a must since they are unwilling to carry too many cards for using the systems and they want convenience.
Commentary: While I agree the joint ticket system, I think many people who are not counted in the poll have very skeptical viewpoints about nationalization. Poll manipulation is not a surprise at all since researchers do not want to risk confrontation with Premier Thaksin [Government pressure has been exerted on pollsters before.]

Singaporeans amazed - translated and summarized from Khaosod, October 8, 2004
Singaporean students feel stunned that Bangkokians could manage to integrate both services (Saensaeb canal and Chaophraya Express) with the Skytrain-Subway network--not perfect but still amazing indeed.

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