Trams out, buses in for thrifty Phuket
Phuket has swapped its planned tram system for an automated rapid transit (ART) bus system and saved 15 billion baht in the process.
The Transport Ministry says the chosen system will be ready nine months earlier and cheaper for passengers to use.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said a meeting to discuss public transport plans for Phuket had agreed on two options.
The first option would see the new bus system built before the Kathu-Patong expressway and they would be completed, as planned, in 2026 and 2028 respectively but with a heavy impact on the island's traffic flow during that time.
The second option is to build the expressway as planned but delay the bus project until some parts of the expressway are open. This option would lessen the impact on traffic flow.
The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has asked permission from the Phuket municipality and the Department of Rural Roads to use parts of their roads for the construction of the mass transit system, the minister said.
The MRTA and the department have two weeks to submit their plans to the ministry. They are also required to arrange public hearings with representatives of all groups of stakeholders in Phuket and submit the results to the ministry for consideration.
Mr Saksayam said he had advised the MRTA to put people first when setting the fares for the Phuket ART and take ART fares in other countries as references.
"The fare must help promote the use of mass transit in Phuket and must not be a burden on passengers," he said.
The minister also instructed the MRTA to consider reducing the project's cost and construction time further by using newer technologies to make the fares even cheaper.