“We hope to open the bidding for corporations and local organizations to join the project at the beginning of next year. We expect construction to start in 2017 and finish in 2021,” Mr Peraphon said.
“The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand [MRTA] has already expressed interest in joining the project,” he added.
The MRTA operates the world-renowned elevated-rail Skytrain service in Bangkok.
However, the B24bn Phuket light-rail project has yet to pass its Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), Mr Peraphon admitted.
“And we need to hold public hearings to gather feedback and recommendations from local residents who will be affected by the mega-project,” he said.
A public hearing to gather such feedback was scheduled to be held at Queen Sirikit Park in Phuket Town today, but was called off due to heavy rain.
“Regardless, we will hold all the required public hearings before the end of this year, and after that we will move ahead with the project,” Mr Peraphon assured.
Mr Peraphon was in Phuket today to join the public hearing and to gather feedback from local residents while inspecting the proposed light-rail route through Phuket Town, which is expected to result in sweeping changes to one-way traffic systems in the city. (See story here).
“Right now we are gathering public feedback and reviewing how the project will affect traffic, what the final route should be, and parking spaces required as part of the project,” Mr Peraphon told The Phuket News.
“The recommendations [from locals] we received today will be presented to the project consultants to adjust the project plan to best serve local requirements.”
The top concern raised so far was parking spaces, he added.
“I have talked with the Phuket City Mayor [Somjai Suwansupana] about providing public parking for these people,” Mr Peraphon assured.
The OTP and Phuket authorities will create separate focus groups of people who will be directly affected by the project so they can exchange ideas.
“After we gather the results of the public hearings and the focus groups, we will hold a seminar to explain the whole project and what we need to fix to match local residents’ needs,” Mr Peraphon said.
Passengers will be able to buy tickets through vending machines at each station, he added.
“It will be more convenient and cheaper for transportation. Fares will be B3 per kilometre, and about B150 from Phuket International Airport to Phuket Town,” he said.
“From the airport to town for around B150 is a reasonable price. Discounts for children and seniors elders will be offered, in accordance with the law.”