All aboard in push for Phuket public transport
PHUKET: Trains and ferries are the way forward, heard the Senate Committee of Transportation (SCT) during their meeting last Friday (September 16) with locals to discuss public transportation on Phuket.
Friday 23 September 2011, 04:31PM
After observing the quality of the island’s roads during his visit, Prapat Chongsanguan, assistant to the Minister for Transport, said the island needs more roads and better public transport.
Though private lands will need to be expropriated for road construction, they are needed to support public transportation in the future, said Mr Prapat.
However, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, vice president of the Phuket Tourism Association, was concerned that additional roads may not be a real solution.
“The more roads we have, the more vehicles we will have,” said Mr Bhummikitti. “We definitely need a public transportation system, but it must use clean energy.”
For many present, a Light Railway Train system (LRT) is the best solution, but as many meeting participants complained to the SCT, the proposed LRT project has been a tedious process, already under discussion for more than 10 years.
It’s understood that as much as B10 billion is required to build a LRT route from Phuket International Airport to Chalong Circle.
Another problem is Thailand’s Joint Ventures Act, which places restrictions on foreign shareholders involved in joint venture projects with Thai state agencies. Those restrictions increase for projects with a budget of more than B1 billion.
Mr Prapat also pointed out that local people might protest the construction of the LRT if it infringes on their land, while the island’s taxi and tuk-tuk drivers may not be pleased with the competition.
“It’s the same old story of development,” said Mr Prapat, who overcame obstacles to successfully build the Bangkok BTS ‘Skytrain’ network when he was governor of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority.
“When something new is proposed, such as a public transportation system, there will always be some groups of people who don’t agree, or even protest against the project.”
Apart from land transportation, KPP Cable TV representative Rawai, Paitoon Sillapavisut, suggested Phuket should have ferry transport around the island, especially along the west coast, with proposed stops including Phuket International Airport.
Though his idea was criticised by others present, who said trips might be rough during monsoon season, the SCT showed interest in the idea of a public ferry network.
Following the meeting, the SCT will report back to Ministry of Transport to push forward ideas for public transportation on Phuket.
Mr Prapat added: “Everyone needs to understand that if you don’t accept any changes, how can our country develop any further?”