PHUKET: No date has been set for the launch of the controversial Phuket airport to Patong bus service, a transport specialist and the buses' owner confirmed this afternoon.
The original speculative date of July 1 seems unlikely while even mid-July might prove too optimistic with the number of bus stops and other details yet to be finalised.
Phuket Land Transport Office specialist Jaturong Keawkasisaid he hoped the registration of the buses could be transferred from Bangkok to Phuket in time for a July 1 start.
But with time running out, he said he was ''prepared to apologise'' if the date slipped by without the buses rolling.
Buses contractor Prakorb Panyawai is hoping for a mid-July start but his original suggestion of August may yet prove to be correct.
''We have begun marketing the service to Phuket residents on radio station 96.5,'' he told Phuketwan
Once the buses do roll, Phuket notables including the Governor, the director of Phuket International Airport and the Mayor of Patong will be among those invited to ride on the first bus, he said.
Details are still being organised. Khun Prakorb wants the bus stop in Patong to be at JJ Plaze behind Jungceylon while Khun Jaturong advocates the Banzaan market.
Contractor Khun Prakorb advocates nine stops. Specialist Khun Jaturong is happy to settle for six.
Khun Jaturong says the buses, bought from a contractor who had been using them at Suvarnabhumi Airport, were ''quite new'' and already fitted with appropriate luggage racks.
''We are trying to have the registration transferred to Phuket as fast as possible,'' he said. ''All the mechanical checks have been done.''
Khun Jaturong is worried about potential traffic holdups in Thepkasattri Road that have the potential to slow travel on the route.
Estimated travel time betwen Patong and the airport remains 90 minutes. So far the fares are 60 baht from the airport to Thalang, 70 baht to the Heroines Monument, 80 baht to Tesco Lotus in Phuket City and 120 baht to Patong.
Khun Prakorb is nervous about recouping his investment and hopes that the route quickly attracts a favorable following.
Khun Jaturong says there has been not negative feedback about the buses beginning to run on the Patong-airport-Patong route so no provision is being made for added security.
In the beginning, tickets will be purchased on the buses.
No date has been set either for the launch of the service or for the public meeting to consider its extension to Kata-Karon, as orginally intended.
Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in that area, notorious for occupying most parking spaces and refusing to consider a call centre, have said they will blockade the streets if the bus service rolls on to Kata-Karon.