BMTA mulls depot land lease plan

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) is mulling letting the private sector develop its bus depots under a long-term lease to boost the state-run agency's income.

BMTA acting director Nares Boonpiem said Kasetsart University has wrapped up a study for the agency on a proposal to let the private sector develop bus depot land. The contracts would last 20-30 years.

Four land plots — Bang Khen, Min Buri, Suan Siam and Samae Dam — have potential for commercial development in the short term, said Mr Nares. The BMTA will invite firms to propose their plans for the land next year.

The first depot that could be leased out is the 14-rai Bang Khen depot on Phahon Yothin Road near Wat Phrasi Mahathat, said the BMTA acting director.

The plot was a prime location as electric train services would run there on the extended Green Line, from Mor Chit to Saphan Mai. The land also is close to the Pink Line, from Khae Rai to Min Buri.

The BMTA would allow the private sector to turn the land into an interchange for buses, electric trains and other modes of transport. A shopping plaza would also be developed.

The other land plots further from the inner city would be gradually rented out. The land with most potential for development includes areas in Min Buri where a section of the Pink Line from Min Buri to Khae Rai would be built. 

Plans to allow the private sector to run BMTA depots under a long-term lease contract were part of the bus agency's efforts to boost income under its financial rehabilitation plan, said Mr Nares.

Mr Nares said he could not reveal the result of the study on how much the lease could bring in.

The BMTA was also improving bus services to attract more passengers. Aside from buying 3,183 new natural gas-fuelled (NGV) buses, the agency also planned to renovate its old buses, starting from Oct 1.

Under the plan, free wifi will be provided for passengers boarding 1,500 air-conditioned EURO II buses. The BMTA would also launch family tour bus services during he weekends and sell advertisements on buses.

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