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Patong residents rally against runaway Phuket tour buses

PHUKET: A runaway tour bus ramming into a temple perimeter wall in Patong last night has reinvigorated a group of local residents in their push for authorities to redress the problem.

transport, accidents, death, tourism, patong,

The Phuket News

Tuesday 23 August 2016, 07:52PM

“We have 25 to 30 signatures already. After last night’s accident (see story here), we are heading out to gather more signatures today,” said Danish national Per Butler, who has lived in the Baan Mon community at the bottom of Patong Hill for 16 years.

“The driver deserves great credit as only his cool reaction prevented a fatal disaster by driving the bus up against the wall,” Mr Butler told The Phuket News today.

“Those who do not deserve great credit are the politicians that don’t want to fix this problem,” he added.

Mr Butler is only one of many in Baan Mon who are tired of having runaway tour buses wreaking deadly havoc as they continue to crash at the bottom of the hill.

He has already presented to Patong Municipality the group’s proposal for all heavy vehicles be diverted away from Phisit Koranee Rd, which is where most runaway vehicles end up crashing into houses and buildings before stopping.

To highlight the problem, the group has posted a compilation video on YouTube showing a litany of deadly accidents that have plagued the community in just the past handful of years. (See right.)

The proposal calls for traffic at the Wat Suwankhiriwong (Wat Patong) end of Phisit Koranee Rd to be made one-way only, exiting onto Phra Baramee Rd, which continues over Patong Hill.

The proposal also calls for some form of barrier to be installed to prevent any vehicles from entering Phisit Koranee Rd after descending the steep hill, either intentionally or otherwise.

“The mayor was not available, and the deputy mayor I spoke to almost threw it away immediately,” Mr Butler recalled.

“Another official at the Public Works Division just said, ‘Impossible... Impossible … Impossible ...’,” he added.

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However, Mr Butler did note that some of the officials he has spoken have shown some concern.

“They admitted the corner was dangerous and a few years ago installed the concrete barrier at the bottom of the hill, but that is a danger in itself,” he said.

Mr Butler noted that drivers of out-of-control trucks and tour buses swerved to avoid colliding into the concrete barrier, but as the descent falls 2.7 meters in the last 150 meters when descending the hill, the vehicles were already travelling too fast to negotiate the 92º corner in front of the temple.

“That’s why they keep ending up crashing in the small residential street off Phisit Koranee Rd,” Mr Butler explained.

In February, the driver of yet-another runaway tour bus - another victim of brake failure - was killed when front of the bus was crushed as the juggernaut rammed into a power pole in the small street. A further 17 Chinese tourists on board the bus were rushed to hospital. (See story here).

“I give some officials credit for trying to do something. They did one time install speed reducers on the hill, but that lasted about 10 days and they removed them again,” he noted.

“Now everything is back to normal,” Mr Butler noted sourly.

“We have been in contact with the Ombudsman’s Office in Bangkok, which seemed to have inspired the speed reducers. We will present our idea to the Ombudsman in Phuket when we think we have enough signatures,” Mr Butler explained.

“This is unacceptable. This road is in a residential area. We have kids playing on the street.” Mr Butler pointed out.

“The road was not built for this kind of traffic. It was never intended for concrete trucks and large tour buses. Now we have a new bypass road through Patong – the new Phang Muang Sai Kor Rd – which is wide enough and runs the entire length of Patong,” he said.

“All heavy traffic should be directed to go down that road, not come through here,” he added.



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Joe12 | 24 August 2016 - 19:19:47

Great to see someone galvanising the community into action. All power to the people! Took 16 years though for one man though. Just like the rest of the expats who comment on here about failings of the systems.  All talk and whinging with nothing done. Too lazy even to report offences, just talk about it. 

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bazerb | 24 August 2016 - 17:56:29

When are people going to start looking at the whole problem,not just a segment. The vehicles are not road worthy and the drivers are either going to fast or are incapable of driving through various reasons. The roads in Phuket for the majority are okay, it is the drivers and the vehicles that use these roads are the biggest problem. A myriad of circumstances as to why this problem and similar ones all over the island keep happening, from being tired to being intoxicated. More stringent checks on larger vehicles especially ones carrying passengers. You never see road side checks, checking for substance abuse at the bottom of Patong hill. To eliminate this problem you need to start with the basic's check the drivers, check the vehicles and stop the problem at source not when its too late. Pro-active not 

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Kurt | 24 August 2016 - 14:07:42

@ Ed Sanders, malczx7r, Ausiebob, Christy Sweet.

The problem with thai is their insular education and their isolationistic living/thinking ( against the bad out site world)
Point is, the lesser a person education wise knows, the more he thinks to know everything.
No doubts, and no reflection, and specially no thinking through.
Just say: ..can not.., ..not possible.., or just think/ spend energy to keep foreign contribution out because that is scary for people who think they know everything but not really know.
It is just fish bowl thinking. Swimming circles and do nothing constructive/pro active.

Another point is, there are so many foreigners living on Phuket with a enormous experience backround about public transport, environmental matters, flood prevention/watermanagement, road safety experience, anti terrorists expertise. Etc, etc.
And all of us would like to contribute for a better Phuket, as we love Phuket.

Danish Mr Per Butler started a great initiative, but it 'walks dead' on Phuket thai authority resistance.
And what for?
Mr Per Butler made very good suggestions about driving deviations, why the Phuket thai authorities don't want to pick that up?
Mr Per Butler lives 16 years on Phuket, for sure much longer than most thai authorities as we all know.

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Christy Sweet | 24 August 2016 - 12:31:52

There was a ban  not too long ago- what happened with that?  Agree With Ed Sanders, no way will Thai officials entertain any actions taken up by "Whitey," no matter how much sense it makes. In fact, I bet the resistance is in direct proportion to the logic of the proposal.  

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Kurt | 24 August 2016 - 11:21:05

It has been proven that these rubber speed reducers on Phuket main roads are not functioning.
There are only good for 'budgets' needed/wanted.

The high concrete humps in smaller soi's do function but can not be used on main roads.

Solution: Give bus drivers a steep hill training first on Patong Hill. Successful, than certify them.
Only these certified bus drivers should be allowed to drive Patong Hill.
It is all about driving skill. Teach them! Save life's and properties.

All the continuing accidents with busses and trucks at Patong Hill, and nothing change, nothing improves, nothing moves 'forward' in this matter.

Only talks and sitting on hands, for many years already.

That tunnel building should have started last month ( we were told 1 year ago), but there is no tunnel building.
Forget that tunnel thing for now, and focus on driver skills.
It are the drivers who are responsible for driving trucks and busses.
I know that 'responsibility' is a dirty word in Thailand, but try something with extra driver training.

Wake up! Do something, become pro-active!
At least for the sake of more safe tourism.

The Phuket News

aussiebob | 24 August 2016 - 10:17:23

This proud Farang suggests some law enforcement(ha, ha) roadworthy checks on heavy vehicles, and some speed humps to slow the dopy drivers down?? It's a bit cheaper than a tunnel, and would probably generate more Tea money during the process.  This road is not really conducive to heavy vehicles is it???? The camber and clearance is rubbish, and excessive speed can only create these situations. God I love Thailand!!!!

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malczx7r | 24 August 2016 - 09:04:25

Of course the officials ignore farang, we are considered stupid, only the superior knowledge of a Thai would be able to address the problem not some dumb farang!!

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Concerned | 24 August 2016 - 08:11:26

Safest way to Patong
For a Tunnel to Patong, 
Start building a tunnel to prevent severe accidents mostly caused by unfit buses trucks and inexperienced steep hill drivers in the future.
PS To finance the tunnel impose road toll like they do on expressways in Bangkok	

The Phuket News

Ed Sanders | 24 August 2016 - 00:49:50

After reading the headline, I was happy, and thought that finally, people have had enough of this crap...then I saw it was initiated by a farang, then I became disappointed.  As Mr. Butler stated, the deputy mayor about threw the idea in the trash...and every other deadbeat official doesn't want to hear anything from a farang.  They are like little children, refusing to even try to be a litton bit open minded to explore some kind of solution to this deadly situation.  No wonder the average Thai person has become numb about hoping for any positive change coming from government officials.

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