The transport minister has ordered the Mass Rapid Transit Authority to take bids for the operator of its Blue Line extension from Bang Sue to Hua Lamphong instead of awarding the service directly to its present concessionaire.
Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Wednesday the MRTA had insisted on Tuesday it would discuss conditions with Blue Line operator, Bangkok Metro Public Co Ltd (BMCL) for the operation of the 27-kilometre-long Bang Sue-Tha Phra-Hua Lamphong route.
On Wednesday Mr Arkhom cited a cabinet instruction for concerned authorities to seek an opinion from the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board and the Finance Ministry.
As both agencies had said there should be a bid for an operator, the MRTA should follow the direction, Mr Arkhom, who is also the NESDB secretary-general, said.
He said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak had ordered the MRTA to find an operator quickly as construction was more than 60% complete.
Mr Arkhom said the MRTA had planned to seek permission for the Blue Line operator to collect fares and later give a revenue share to the government instead of following a previous cabinet resolution to allow the government to collect fares and hire the concessionaire to operate and maintain train services.
The extended route will complete the Blue Line loop. BMCL operates trains on its original section, 20km underground from Hua Lamphong to Bang Sue, under a 25-year concession obtained from the MRTA in 2004.