Weak points: BTS replaces monthly cards with confusing rewards system

Upset about losing the discounted trips that come with prepaid monthly BTS cards? Well, no, you aren’t getting those back. Not even close. But the Skytrain operator has come up with the next best thing. Or something like that.

After the Bangkok Mass Transit System discontinued 30-day trip passes last month, raising commuter cost anxiety, it announced yesterday that it will introduce collectible points that can be exchanged for rides.

“Ever since we began our services 22 years ago, our passengers have always been our top priority,” CEO Surapong Laoha-anya said in the announcement. “Therefore, as part of our efforts to continuously improve our services, we have launched our latest promotion to offer our passengers exclusive benefits with greater flexibility to redeem free trips and special privileges to meet their diverse lifestyles.”

As we all know, any CEO talking about privileges for your flexible lifestyle is coming for your wallet. Still, its not the most useless of the myriad points and rewards systems out there, it’s just a far cry from an across-the-board discount for frequent travelers. And an even farther cry from flat fares of THB15 floated two years ago.

Under the new system to launch Nov. 1, four trips per week will net 150 points, which goes up to 800 points for 12 or more. Trips passing four or fewer stations will not be counted. With those points, one trip will cost adult commuters 250 points and students 200 points. They cost fewer points if you redeem three or more at once. The program will end Oct. 31, 2021.

And to sweeten the deal, points will be doubled until Jan. 31.

Bangkok’s daily minimum wage is THB331 (US$10), placing air conditioned BTS comfort out of reach of the low-earning.

While the temporary double points system will bring costs down for a few months, it’s ultimately a wash.

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