Five years late, a joint ticketing system for Bangkok’s Skytrain and MRT won’t debut until at least October, a delay blamed on the coronavirus pandemic.

Transport Ministry Permanent Secretary Chaiwat Thongkamkoon told the media that the latest delay is due to the Singapore company developing the system is unable to actually test it due to government restrictions imposed to control the pandemic.

Operators of the BTS Skytrain and the underground MRT services first announced in Febraury 2014 the plan to combine ticketing systems to provide convenience for commuters and save money. Launch date for the system? Late 2015.

Fast-forward five years and the Transport Ministry, Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc, and Bangkok Mass Transit System still can’t get their acts together.

The ministry actually warned in May that the schedule was slpping again, saying the earliest that common ticketing could become a reality is October. Thursday’s announcement of “late October” thus seems ambitious, given that the ministry six months ago said it likely could be at the end of the year.

The idea is that passengers holding either an MRT Plus card or the BTS Skytrain’s Rabbit card would be able to trade them in for a new Mangmoom (“Spider”) stored-value card that would let them travel on either system.

Chaiwat said current plans called for the BTS Sukhumvit (Green) Line and the MRT Blue and Purple lines be connected first. The Airport Rail Link would take at least another six months to be added to the system.

He noted that the common ticket would take a million BTS tickets and more than 200,000 MRT cards out of circulation.