PKCD Executive Director Watchara Jaru-ariyanon explained to The Phuket News today (Mar 6), “It is better if we conduct further checks on the buses’ GPS systems and smart card payment system on all ten buses before we offer the service.
“At first we thought we would begin the service after the launch [on Feb 28] but the team has decided it would be better to test the systems for a month to make sure that the card charges the right amount of money, and ensure that the GPS and mobile application, which is upcoming, are accurate.
“There have been initial issues with the system in Bangkok, so we want to make sure we have no problems here. We want to be sure,” he said.
“Everything is ready, so the trial period will be finished no later than this month, possibly within March.
“For more information you can visit https://phuketsmartbus.com/ where there is a Q&A section that responds to all queries,” added Mr Watchara.
Word of the delay surfaced after interested users of the service noticed that the geo-location of most of the smart buses have been in Phuket Town since the Feb 28 launch (see story here), which is outside of the West Coast route that the buses are supposed to serve.
“The buses are mainly being tested in Phuket Town. Although some will take turns going along the West Coast route for testing throughout the day as well,” said Mr Watchara.
The change comes after the buses already began picking up passengers from Phuket Airport, with one local expat who experienced the service as a passenger, name withheld, commenting last week:
“Took a ride today from Tatyana Novikova’s salon to Tesco and back. We were the only passengers on board. Payment in cash was accepted, aircon works. Overall, it can be used. Btw, we got on a bus that wasn’t listed on the website. Seems like not all of them transfer data yet,” the reader said.
However, Mr Watchara confirmed today that the buses are now not offering any services to passengers during the trial period.
“During this time, it’s better that we don’t pick up any passengers,” he said.