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Phuket ‘smart bus’ considered to replace light rail, save B15.2bn

Phuket ‘smart bus’ considered to replace light rail, save B15.2bn

PHUKET: Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob has ordered an in-depth analysis of a proposal to dump the Phuket light-rail project in favour of a ‘smart bus’ system that would reduce the cost of launching a mass transport option on the island by some B15.2 billion.

By The Phuket News

Friday 14 May 2021, 12:19PM

The order came yesterday (May 13) during a teleconference Mr Saksayam held to follow up the progress of transport projects in regional main provinces, reports state news agency MCOT.

Mr Saksayam explained that the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has proposed to change the type of transport system to be rolled out in Phuket from light rail to a bus-based operation.

The MRTA, which has been officially assigned the task of implementing the Phuket mass transit project, which up until now has been focussed purely in building a light-rail system, had already conducted a preliminary investigation into the proposal, he said.

“The ‘smart bus without driver’, or automated rapid transit (ART), will reduce the budget of the project by about B15.289 billion. Additionally, the time required for construction will also be shorter by about nine months, which will allow us to set lower fares for passengers,” he said.

“At this stage, we have a concept to set three different rates of fare according to service areas: within Phuket Town, outside of Phuket Town, and travelling between Phuket Town and outside areas.

“For construction, the option that requires the least time to complete will be chosen, such as using precast concrete and launching gantries,” he added.

 Mr Saksayam also explained that the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) had discussed with the MRTA and the Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT) how construction of the project would affect traffic across the island.

Thai Residential

To resolve the issue, the agencies suggested delaying the launch of the Phuket mass transit system until 2030.

“If we work on the construction of the public transport project and the Patong tunnel project, which are currently planned to open in 2026 and 2028 respectively, at the same time, the construction will affect the traffic on the island very much,” he said.

“However, if we postpone the construction of the public transport project to open in 2030, this can help reduce the effect on traffic,” he added.

“I ordered the MRTA and EXAT to present the action plans and timeline for the two choices within two weeks,” Mr Saksayam said. 

“After the COVID-19 outbreak has been resolved, representatives from the two agencies will go to Phuket to conduct a public hearing,” he noted.

“At this stage, Phuket City Municipality has approved the MRTA to work on the public transport project on Thepkrasattri Rd and Phuket Rd,” he said.

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Kurt | 15 May 2021 - 11:20:49

Why talking about 2026/2028 if already clear that postponing till 2030 is better? Seen the 5 year time frame of small Chalong underpass construction, that Patong tunnel thing will take at least 10 years. Ordering action plans and timeline within 2 weeks? Hahaha. Already have talked with foreign contractors who will fit your bureaucratic tunnel paper timeline?

Fascinated | 14 May 2021 - 19:20:14

Commonsense prevails at last . this pie in the sky thing was never going to happen.

Stickler1234 | 14 May 2021 - 18:31:59

And who will use this bus/tram? Is there a big commuter issue in Phuket? Cheap and rapid mass transport to the airport from somewhere near Central, and lots of cheap, well regulated (electric) taxis are what's required! Plus a tunnel from there to the west coast. 

Heinz | 14 May 2021 - 17:40:59

The taxi drivers will be happy .....

Kurt | 14 May 2021 - 15:51:07

Planned openings in 2026 & 228? LOL, first 'we' start now  all over again a few commission committee years. How great to be able all the time to join the money . What a financial trough waste of past years 'studies'.

CaptainJack69 | 14 May 2021 - 13:20:30

After years of everyone screaming this exact same thing. You couldn't make this stuff up. How much money has already been wasted pretending a light rail system was a good idea?

Kurt | 14 May 2021 - 13:16:51

Here we go again with 'smart'. What simple sett up 'smart' is working here so far? Have just a bus infra structure with drivers. People enough to make happy with a job. Cost of employment will be cheaper than 'handling something smart'. Public hearing after Covid-19 outbreak has been resolved? That will may be as soon as 2023. Planned openings of things in 2026 and 2028? La...


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