''The bus ride is cheap, safe, and saves them money,'' operator Prakorb Panyawai said. ''That's what they told me.''
Efforts are now being made to give the Airport-Patong service the boost it needs to become a transport alternative for more tourists and residents.
Phuket airport GM Prathuang Somkhom told Phuketwan that Airports of Thailand, which manages the airport, was ''very happy'' to provide proper signage inside the facility and to improve lighting at the bus stop.
But he added that many tourists would continue to take taxis from the airport to Phuket's west coast, particularly if they had a lot of luggage.
Others might find the bus less convenient, he said, although the bus service has his ''100 percent support.''
''It's the beginning of the project and it will take time to develop,'' he said. Numbers have been low since the innovative service began on July 19.
''Governor Maitree Intrusud has visited the airport about three times already to check on the progress of the bus,'' the GM said. ''It's plain that the service has his full support.''
But there's a disagreement between Khun Prakorb and Khun Prathuang over what's possible directly outside the airport exit.
Khun Prakorb wants to set up a small table ''just so tourists know'' that there's an alternative to the taxis. Khun Prathuang remains reluctant to provide one.
However, Khun Prakorb remains optimistic and says his previous experience with Phuket to Krabi minivans has taught him that establishing a new service and winning customers takes time.
''I am sure business will be better when the high season arrives,'' he said. ''I am prepared to keep going. I believe it will work.''