Mathew Thomas was born in Tiruvalla as the son of Rev. T. Thomas, a priest of the Mar Thoma Church. He completed his B.Sc. degree from the Marthoma College, Tiruvalla, and also has an LL.B from Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram. He was motivated by the imposition of Emergency in 1977 to enter politics and joined the Kerala Vidyathi Janata(KVJ), the state youth wing of the erstwhile Janata Party. He served in various positions, beginning as the KVJ Unit Secretary in Marthoma College, Thiruvalla; then as Taluk Secretary, Thiruvalla, District President, Alappuzha, State Secretary, and as State President(1985-88.). He is married to Achamma Alex and have a daughter.
He has been elected as a Member of the Kerala Legislature, in 1987, 2006, 2011 and 2016. In the 2011 elections, he polled 63289 votes, winning by a margin of 10767 votes, over his nearest rival, Victor T. Thomas of the Kerala Congress (M).
As the Minister of Transport, Mathew bought the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) out of great financial crisis with a series of reforms. He commissioned a study that identified areas where KSRTC could generate revenue and reduce costs. The major steps taken were transforming the bus depots into revenue generating shopping malls. As KSRTC owned the key location in every town this could generate income in the form of rent.
Another progressive step was to improve fuel efficiency and reduce accidents. This was achieved through incentivising the drivers with better economy and fewer accident rates. The corporation had submitted a proposal to the State Government for switching over to CNG as fuel. The proposal, worth Rs 280 crore, envisaged using CNG in 1,500 buses in the first phase along with another proposal for acquiring electric buses, and both the proposals would be presented before the 13th Finance Commission. The Corporation could register an annual profit of Rs 43 crore on converting to CNG and Rs 288 crore on using LNG. The KSRTC has been selected for the Kerala State Energy Conservation Awards 2009.
Mathew revived the KSRTC bus body-building units and ditched the decision to buy chassis from private companies, which saved the corporation a huge amount. This scheme also helped to move more contracted employees on to a permanent basis. He reviewed the pay scales, improved working conditions and made the KSRTC more employee friendly. He hence managed to avoid the strikes which had previously caused heavy losses.
Mathew was instrumental in getting more funding for the KSRTC. Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission project 80 low floor air-conditioned Volvo buses were launced in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. Thiruvananthapuram also received another 50 air buses under the Ananthapuri Fast Buses Scheme. During his tenure, the monthly earnings of the corporation jumped Rs.68 crore to Rs.100 crore. The distance covered by the KSRTC buses increased from over 11 lakh to 13 lakh kilometers. KSRTC also created 9,135 vacancies during his term.
Mathew achieved all this with the credit of the only transport Minister to reduce the fares of KSRTC. He resigned as a result of a split in his party and sacrificed his ministership to his fellow party MLA, Jose Thettayil.