The disaster of public buses in Bangkok : debts, old fleet and maybe an end of state support

A perfect cas d’ecole of the public transport policy… a perfect exemple of a financial disaster…

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority is in the rabbit role… in Wonderland.

-The BMTA counts 20 % of the 18 000 buses in Bangkok
-on those 3 500 buses, half are not air conditionned
-only 600 000 passengers per day, on the 2 millions of the commuters using buses per day
-its debt stands at 54 billions THB
-per month, BMTA has 500 millions revenues… and expenditures of 900 millions…
-and the government, of course, refuses to increase fares

Indeed it’s a true disaster, after many years of mismanagement (or even no-management), and only short term policies.

You probably saw their buses on the streets… A total shame… They look like african buses, in the 50’s.

So it’s rather funny to hear now the Transport Ministry talking…

BMTA has been told by the Transport Ministry that it was time the agency ended its dependence on state assistance to keep its business afloat. It has been advised that it overhaul its bus services and charge passengers a new daily flat rate of 30 baht if it wanted to stand on its own feet.

The new fare change would help boost its revenue, said deputy Transport Minister Songsak Thongsri yesterday. But success would largely depend on whether the agency could polish the poor image of city buses, mainly caused by its slipshod concessionaires, and draw a greater number of passengers. (Bangkok Post)

The thai government is totally schizophrenic ! It’s unbelievable.

I would like to remind you what did the Transport Minister… 3 months ago : The new minister “ordered Transport Co and the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority to indefinitely delay bus-fare hikes planned for this month and next. Both state enterprises must resubmit documents on their operating costs.” (read here).

So now he’s talking about “independance” and end of state subsidy ? And a 30 THB fare ? !

It’s Wonderland.

3 Responses to “The disaster of public buses in Bangkok : debts, old fleet and maybe an end of state support”


  1. 1 fall 10 May 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Hold on, hold on.
    “per day, …expenditures of 900 millions” “The BMTA counts 20 % of the 18 000 buses in Bangkok”

    So that’s roughly, 50,000 to operate/per bus/per day?
    OK, that’s a shoddy calculation (inclusive of fuel, overhead, depreciation, etc.).
    But I seriously doubt their account.

    The thing I do not get is, there’s those new fleet of bus from China (yellow-color) with air con and all. And their fare are about 20+, with so few seating. How do the BMTA suppose to convince me that with their crappy death trap, mini-green bus, charging 7.50 per head and they cannot survive?
    Are those two are of same company? Or are BMTA telling us those yellow bus are costing too much for them?

    But a daily 30 baht fare, how do that idiot suppose minimum wage earner to go to work? Walk?

  2. 2 BTS 10 May 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Indeed, those buses are horrible. Better to take the BTS ! Or the taxi.

  3. 3 thaicrisis 10 May 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Fall… eventhough the datas provided by Bangkok Post, and/or by the company itself, may not be reliable… it gives I believe a good picture of the whole situation : horrendous.

    My point : you forget that BMTA is just another “public” monster… Buses are a tiny part of the company… What about the legions of… employees, friends, cousins, generals, grand sons of politicians, mistresses who are probably on the payroll ?

    Plus the interests of the huge debt…

    Public companies in good old countries like France, UK, Italy, Germany… are well known to be living disaster (when speaking about efficiency)… So can you imagine in Thailand ? All of them. Take TOT, the future disaster. SRT (trains)… all of them.

    It’s probably pointless to have the exact figures.

    The important point, as you said, is what are they going to do now ?

    30 THB per fare is ridiculous. Ridiculous too the postponement of any fare hikes… since many months, despite a full gasoline crisis.

    The situation is blocked. If you think about it.. exactly like the whole country.


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Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.


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