Public bus transit services begin at U-Tapao
Rayong: The first public bus services travelling to and from U-Tapao International Airport were rolled out yesterday, with three new routes connecting passengers to neighbouring Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Trat.
An opening ceremony for the routes was held at the airport, located in Rayong's westernmost district of Ban Chang. It was presided over by Department of Land Transport (DLT) chief Sanith Phromwong.
The new services were introduced as part of a Transport Ministry campaign to establish road-based transit systems at all of Thailand's 34 operational airports by the end of the year, he said at the ceremony.
"As of now, there are transit systems at 22 of Thailand's airports," he said. "By the end of the month, road transit networks similar to U-Tapao's will be rolled out at Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani and Trat airports."
U-Tapao, tipped to be a main transport hub under fast-tracked efforts to develop the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), urgently requires such transport networks, Mr Sanith said.
According to him, this airport needs three new provincial bus routes leading to and from the airport. Each of the medium-sized buses can carry 19 passengers per trip.
The first route, called Route 398, will take passengers from U-Tapao to Trat, passing through Chanthaburi.
According to Mr Sanith, the 220km route will stop at both province's main bus stations, both of which are located in the provinces' Muang districts.
Travel time will reportedly take around three hours and 15 minutes between each terminus, and cost 27-130 baht.
The second, Route 399, is to Rayong Bus Terminal 2, in its Muang district.
This is the shortest of the three routes at 35km and will cost 11-24 baht, taking around half an hour to complete the entire trip.
The final route, called Route 400, is 100km in length to Chon Buri bus station, stopping in Si Racha district, central Pattaya and Sattahip district along the way.
Mr Sanith said the entire route will take about one and a half hours to complete, with fares ranging from 14-64 baht.
All three routes, operated by two firms, were launched as of 1pm yesterday.
According to Mr Sanith, each bus is equipped with GPS-tracking and automatic braking systems.
He said a maximum of four buses will be used on each route per day, adding that more could be deployed, depending on demand. According to him, the bus schedules will be configured according to schedules of the average 40 daily flights at the airport.
Rear Admiral Luechai Sri-eamgool, the airport's director, said yesterday U-Tapao handled more than a million passengers last year. This year, he expects that number to double.
The airport's second terminal, set to be fully open by next January, is now partially open.
He said it will eventually replace the old terminal, and will allow U-Tapao to handle upwards of 3 million passengers per year.
Terminal 2's full opening was originally scheduled for last August.