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BMTA seeks private concessionaire to run its EV bus fleet


Despite opposition from its labour union, state-run bus operator Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) is going ahead with a plan to hire a private company to operate an electric-vehicle fleet of 400 buses.

BMTA chief executive Kittikan Chomdoung Charuworapolkul said on Thursday that as part of its rehabilitation plan, the agency would get a private company to procure 400 EV buses, as well as drivers and fare collectors, to serve passengers in line with the schedules set by all the eight bus terminals of the BMTA.

The budget for this plan comes from the BMTA’s revenue set aside for maintenance and petrol cost, as well as the state subsidy for public service obligation, according to the CEO.

He dismissed an allegation by the BMTA’s labour union that the executive board was spending too much on hiring a private company to operate the EV fleet — an average of over THB6,000 per bus per day.

BMTA seeks private concessionaire to run its EV bus fleet

Kittikan said the cost was the same as what the BMTA was incurring on its current fleet of normal red-and-beige buses, covering maintenance, petrol, wages for the drivers and fare collectors.

The BMTA’s rehabilitation plan, approved by its executive board recently, calls for 400 EV buses to be operated by a private concessionaire.

An auction is scheduled for May to select the concessionaire, and the winner is required to start procuring EV buses within October, which should comprise at least 30 per cent of the fleet within a year.

The loss-making state enterprise has cumulative debts totalling THB130 billion. Its average cost amounts to THB4 billion per year for maintenance, petrol and personnel.

It gets 500,000 to 600,000 passengers on weekdays and 300,000 to 400,000 on average on holidays, much lower than the 900,000 in 2019, before Covid-19 struck.

Published : April 21, 2022