Speaking with The Phuket News today (October 9), Mr Prakob listed problems the service faces, ranging from neglect by the airport management to continuing animosity from tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.
Yet, despite the lack of support, Mr Prakob says he will continue with the service. “I will wait for the high season and see how that goes. I won’t give up.”
He has had trouble with resentful taxi and tuk-tuk drivers who see the bus service as an incursion into their territory, at both the airport and in Patong.
“Sometimes I worry about the taxis and tuk-tuk drivers [at both ends of the route]. The last time my staff put up posters about the service in Patong and at the airport, the posters were ripped down and destroyed.
“I have sent two requests to [the airport director Prateuang Sornkham], one asking for proper signage in the arrivals terminal and the other asking for space for a counter. But there has been no answer to either – all I am told is that my requests ‘are in process’.
“On October 19 it will be three months since we started our service. On that day I will remind them again.”
In Patong, he wants to expand the service, dropping off and picking up passengers at more than the current one location.
“I have already talked with Phrap Keesin [son of Patong’s currently suspended mayor, and a powerful force in the tuk-tuk and taxi industry] to tell him I want to increase the number of bus stops.
“If I can do that, the Airport Express service will be more noticeable in Patong. He understood and agreed with me. I have just informed the Phuket Land Transport Department.
As a result of the lack of signage and counter at the airport, he says that few people realise there is a bus service available to Patong, so the service receives very few passengers.
Mr Prakob has already reduced the service, canceling trips if there are few or no passengers on board.
“I believe that public transportation has to be promoted, but it feels as though we are working in isolation, with no one to support our service.”
Information on the airport bus service can be seen here: phuketairportbusexpress.com/en