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Phuket Opinion: Phuket’s B10bn question – trams or buses?

Phuket Opinion: Phuket’s B10bn question – trams or buses?

PHUKET: According to an announcement by local officials earlier this week, representatives from the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) apparently were to arrive on the island on Wednesday (June 15) to promote an online survey asking Phuket residents their opinion about the light rail project that is now gaining momentum.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 19 June 2022, 09:30AM

According to the announcement, the MRTA team was supposed to be in Phuket until this Tuesday (June 21) so they could gain public feedback about the project. However, where they have been on the island in the past four days, if they arrived at all, remains a mystery.

“MRTA will visit the area to publicize and survey the opinions of the people in Phuket between 15 – 21 June 2022 and will use the results of this survey to be used as a guideline for the Phuket Mass Transit System Project Phase 1 to be appropriate and consistent with the opinions of the people in Phuket,” the announcement, posted on Wednesday, read.

The announcement came as the MRTA launched an online survey open to the general public, including people not living on the island, asking whether they agreed with the proposed fares and whether Phase 1 of the project should include an extension to Tha Chatchai so the project could support the bid for Phuket to host the World Specialised Expo 2028. (See story here.)

Yet the survey misses one important question, raised by Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob himself: Do Phuket people actually want a light rail mass transport system at all?

Mr Saksayam last November called for study into whether a network of buses instead of an expensive tram system would be more feasible for appropriately improving the island’s public transport system. In fact, other than the pink Pho Thong buses operated by the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor), the arrival of such a bus or tram network would mark the island’s first “public transport” operation that is not privately owned.

BDO Phuket

Mr Saksayam back then noted that rolling out a bus network instead of trams would save at least B10 billion. The current budget for just Phase 1 of the light rail project stands in excess of B35bn. Of note, at this stage officials are just ignoring promoting any extra cost of rolling out Phase 2 of the project.

However, since last November, any talk of the idea of a bus network instead of trams has fallen silent, much the visit by MRTA officials to gain public feedback about the project that is supposed to be ongoing right now.

There have been no more notices posted by provincial officials or local municipalities ‒ including Phuket City Municipality and even Mai Khao Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor), both areas to be greatly affected by the project ‒ to explain where people might go to give their opinion, other than online.

Meanwhile, the question of trams versus buses is not even asked by the online survey (see here). The MRTA is steaming ahead with the project, focussing on fine-tuning the details instead of asking the most fundamental question of all. Right now, it looks like that as the budget has been confirmed and the money is coming, we are going to get a light rail system whether we want one or not.

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SEC2 | 20 June 2022 - 12:51:33

Where I'm from there is/was an excellent bus system that moved people around. Think less cars and motorcycles on the road.  A rail system was voted in years ago and it is nowhere near being completed and already 140% over budget and they have cut down the size/routes.  It is an eyesore and has ruined the landscape.

Kurt | 20 June 2022 - 12:11:57

Driverless vehicles in Thailand? Not possible. These vehicles will cause many accidents because they can't be programmed to understand the lawless human drivers ( ghost riding, ignoring red traffic lights, overtaking wrong sides, etc).
Human drivers will bump into riding computerised  real traffic law settings! A culture shock!.  :-)

Kheekiat | 19 June 2022 - 19:50:50

The building of a light rail system will be costly, but when up and running, can be cheaper, if it is a driverless vehicle.

Busses are expensive to run, hence the drivers, but have the advantage of flexibilty, where routes can easyli be changed if demands changes.
It could take a lot of other vehicles off the streets, if it haves the routes that are in demand by the public.

Fascinated | 19 June 2022 - 11:25:11

'Where are they'? Living it up in a 5 star hotel using 'feasibility study' money would be the popular guess.

christysweet | 19 June 2022 - 11:11:43

Opportunities for lining one's pocket are not nearly  as abundant wth a bus service, though. And then there's all those connected families  to benefit from eminent domain, too. Ergo, the 'light rail' -which will be a disastor in every way- will commence.  

JohnC | 19 June 2022 - 09:51:53

Yes. More buses on already crowded roads will just make the driving experience on Phuket even more of a headache. Think back to normal times when the streets are packed with big tour buses and government buses plus all the usual chaos. I thought the idea of the light rail was to move some of the traffic away from the roads, not put more vehicles on them to increase the problem.


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