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Phuket's governor explains details of the tram service coming for Phuket

A Tramcar Named Phuket: Island Chooses Trolley Service for Public Transport

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
PHUKET: Trams are to be the main form of public transport along the island's backbone from Phuket International Airport to Chalong Circle, experts recommended at a public hearing today.

The trams - also known as trolley cars and powered by overhead electricity - would not be primarily for tourists but for locals, the gathering at the Metropole Hotel in Phuket City was told.

The tram route would pass either side of the Heroines' Monument in central Phuket while vehicular traffic passing along Thepkasattri Road would take an underpass, according to Nirun Ketkeo, a policy and planning officer with the Land Transport Department.

Trams and trolleys are beloved in some European Cities, San Francisco and the Australian capitals of Melbourne and Adelaide. However, while they are safe and keep passengers dry, they are not fast.

Tourists targetting Phuket's west coast would mostly continue to take taxis to reach their resorts quickly.

If a third public meeting approves the 10 billion baht tram solution, Governor Maitree Intrusud said today, construction could begin in 2017. Phuket's population could be catching trams in 2022.

''It will be a chance to embrace the concept of Old Phuket Town becoming a walking district,'' the governor said. ''That will need to happen sometime within the next 10 years.''

The tram route down Phuket Road in Old Phuket Town would then head for Saphan Hin public park before turning south towards Chalong Circle, at the intersection close to Phuket Immigration headquarters.

School children and people who do not need to rush are expected to adopt the tram system over time. It's to be hoped that the tram system will replace at least part of the journey made daily by an increasing number of resort buses for staff.

When asked how people who now ride motorcycles could be persuaded to abandon their convenient vehicles and use the tram system instead, Khun Nirun said: ''The first step is to offer the alternative of public transport.''

Yet to be determined is the route taken from Phuket airport and whether it should be along the main road to the Thepkasattri Road junction or the longer, more populated route behind Nai Yang and Nai Thon beaches.

Trams are considered to be highly reliable provided a power supply can be maintained. It's assumed for now that bus services currently running between the airport and Phuket City could be used to carry tourists along the west coast road to Surin, Kamala, Patong, Karon, Kata and Rawai.

The idea of a light rail between Surat Thani and Phang Nga and a public transport link between Phang Nga and Krabi were separate proposals and had not advanced as speedily as the Phuket tram concept, Khun Nirun said.

A blueprint for Phuket's trams will be available in November.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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What??!

Posted by Sue on June 3, 2014 13:45

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I personally think trams would be a BIG mistake. the reason i say this is that we are in the year 2014 now... trams are an old form of public transport and the only reason you still see them around in some cities is the cost factor to remove and replace them. Wake up Phuket people in power... look at a sky train system like in Bangkok if your going to look at anything.

Posted by DG on June 3, 2014 13:49

Editor Comment:

Not true, DG. Most cities that got rid of their tram systems now regret that big mistake. Trams are low cost, efficient people movers. There is no chance of a skytrain on Phuket because there aren't the same broad avenues.

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Trams: Infrastructure needed, another underpass to be built, takes 8 years. Buses; by the bus, start the route, takes 1 week.

Posted by FrankieV on June 3, 2014 14:03

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365 days of April 1...more overhead power cables using an unreliable power grid, taking up more road space....
Oh the carnage.

Posted by Laurie Howells on June 3, 2014 14:31

Editor Comment:

A doomsayer through and through, eh Laurie? Never a constructive thought or idea, just petty put-downs . . .

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Why not go further back in the past and introduce Phuket to horse and carts?
Lets hope they realise the design limitations of a tram system prior to construction rather than after completion.
Nothing like white elephants to attract tourists!

Posted by Manowar on June 3, 2014 14:37

Editor Comment:

''White elephants'' is an expression best not used because white elephants in Thailand are something everyone admires, as you probably know. Besides, trams are unlikely to crash into motorcycles, so they're ideal for all kinds of reasons.

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Having an underpass which would go right under the monument would be the smart solution. The traffic congestion there is awful.

Personally, I would love to see a tram service in Phuket. I hope it gets off the ground

Posted by reader on June 3, 2014 14:38

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ED, I learnt from you...having said that, what's your opinion of a tramway. As usual you are the master on put downs, but hey, as far as your opinion of me goes, I don't give a rats. And I know you will never post my opinion of you...

Posted by Laurie Howells on June 3, 2014 14:52

Editor Comment:

I have no opinion of you but your comments are always negative and dispensable, Laurie. We'd prefer to have comments that add value.

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Trams are great in large, congested cities covering relatively short distances. Despite nominally being slow, they often beat passenger cars in city traffic.

They are not a good choice for longer trips because they are considerably slower than other means of transport.

Would you take a tram and spend 1.5hr instead of a 20min motorbike ride ?

I bet most will not and thus I don't see this proposal as a viable solution to Phuket transport woes.

Unfortunately the relatively easy and quick setting up of bus routes faces unique challenges on Phuket but perhaps the Marshal Law banning protests might be the catalyst for such plans to be put into practice very quickly.

Set up a bus route from airport along the west coast and see if the Tuk-Tuk and Taxi drivers dare to protest.

If they do, hopefully the army will be here to intervene.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 3, 2014 14:58

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Ed, "Besides, trams are unlikely to crash into motorcycles" what a foolish comment, you really are thinking more from the brain you sit on, trams have run over cyclists, run into cars and that's in countries where most drivers obey the road rules, on top of that, go ride a bike and see what happens when the wheels hit the tracks, longitudinally. The last two months has seem a marked decline in your thinking... time to take a long holiday.

Posted by Laurie Howells on June 3, 2014 14:59

Editor Comment:

I don't have time to argue, Laurie, with a pugnacious commenter whose day isn't complete without a fight. I am sure other readers can tell you that fixed-track tramcars, isolated from other traffic, are perfectly safe. There is no suggestion the tracks would be criss-crossed by motorcycles.

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Sorry Ed I have to agree with the doom mongers, how is a tram going to operate with the way people drive here? I am thinking of lane dodgers etc. and the inevitable people that will think oh a clear lane I will drive along it and cut in !

Posted by stuart on June 3, 2014 15:14

Editor Comment:

The tram tracks are likely to be isolated and probably elevated.

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Maybe so Alan but motorcycles can still crash into trams. The main problem will be the track clearance groove and that thin tyre vehicles cannot cross the rails at acute angles. There is also a greater problem due to loss of grip between the steel rail and the tyre. In wet weather this grip is almost zero as the track is lubricated by a boundary layer of water. Any attempt at braking from the road surface across a rail will result in an immediate loss of friction, locking up the braked wheel which will then follow the path or direction of the rail.
Trams are used generally in flat terrain cities where gradients are limited to about 3% and if possible where the tracks or rails can be within a dedicated zone.

Posted by Manowar on June 3, 2014 15:24

Editor Comment:

As you said, ''dedicated zone.''

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Obviously the tram tracks would need to be crossed, otherwise they would effectively isolate large areas and cause long diversions to find a way around them.

Considering how disciplined local motorists are, even crossing high-speed motorways on bikes and foot, I think it would take a 3m high electrified fence to prevent anyone from crossing the tracks.

I would say a Tram service between Patong, Karon and Kata would be a great idea, if it was not for the differences in elevations that trams can't overcome and a tunnel would be too expensive.

A scenic route hugging the shore line however might prove to be hugely popular among tourists though.

Trams have potential but just not in the purpose they are now being suggested here.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 3, 2014 15:25

Editor Comment:

Perfect for taking kids to and from school safely, and for carrying families to do the shopping or to the temple or mosque. Isolated from other traffic. A sensible decision.

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Well this sounds a good idea but before you sign the deal take a look at what happened to the Trams in Edinburgh stated last week only half built 2/3 years late and the cost was way over original contract.
What Phuket needs is a good reliable bus service covering the whole island far cheaper, and could be in place within a year.

Posted by Granitebeetle on June 3, 2014 15:30

Editor Comment:

Except that at the rate traffic is increasing on Phuket, in 10 years an isolated tram service is likely to be still moving when buses will be stalled. A good reason to be on the tram.

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Ok, a Tram. Well... News running fast in Phuket. I think fuel cell buses (first) with extra lanes (later) would be a fast and low cost solution. I know of some towns in Europe, who thought the electric wiring maintaining too expansive, not to speak of building it the first time. These town switched to fuel cell buses. To get their needed electricity, they produce pure water. Every 300km or so, they need a h2 refill. H2 can be processed locally or brought in tanks. You need some good educated crew to maintain them, but they are pretty low cost in handling. Fuel cell buses are quite, clean, fast and can go to new routes as can say "go there." So pretty flexible, faster and cheaper and up and running in maybe 6-12 month.

Posted by Lena on June 3, 2014 16:03

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Ed, you say "The tram tracks are likely to be isolated and probably elevated", , just where did you get that from, certainly not from any meeting... guess it is something you are guessing at hoping to better some of us readers... guess work Ed, something you despise the rest of us doing...

Posted by Laurie Howells on June 3, 2014 16:15

Editor Comment:

Go away, Laurie. Stop wasting my time on your obsession with trivia.

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Better bus service may get some of cars of the roads, add a congestion charge. Sorry editor you will not like that one.

Posted by Granitebeetle on June 3, 2014 16:31

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I actually think that it is an surprisingly good idea.
By offering cheap but slow transportation, the taxi mafia does not have to feel threatened. Meanwhile it does offer a safe and cheap option for many locals.
Speed is not always the option. Slow but steady does it.

I do have to agree that a quick (perhaps temporary) solution would still be a reliable bus service.

Posted by Tinkerbell on June 3, 2014 16:54

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Tram would be a good idea for congested areas like Phuket town. It could be a loop from the market up Yoawarat road to Vachira hospital, then oyer to Thepkasattri up past Mission hospital to the bus depot and Super Cheap and then back down to Robinsons and return to market. Would be popular with locals and tourists. Tram is still popular in HK even though faster mtr runs same route.

For long journeys through less dense areas, the problem is you still need some form of transport once you get to your destination if it is not directly on the route.

Posted by Richard S on June 3, 2014 17:53

Editor Comment:

Melbourne is often classed as the most livable city in the world and it has a tram network extending into the suburbs that are not well-served by rail. The rail service has been under fire lately but the trams suit many and work efficiently, even in hilly areas. Better to aim for a walking city with trams than a Los Angeles where the car rules.

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This form of transport was ideal for Melbourne due to the initial planning which included very wide main roads and flat terrain. The width of the roads allowed the tram rails to be isolated from vehicular traffic in many areas. However where trams operate on the inner lane of a road many problems exist. Probably the worst being that right hand turns are made from the left hand lane so that the tram lines are not blocked.
Yes, Melbourne was a great city designed for and by the people of NSW.

Posted by Manowar on June 3, 2014 18:42

Editor Comment:

Just this week, the authorities in Sydney admitted they regretted not having made the decision that have been made in Melbourne to deal with an increasing population sensibly. Before long, Melbourne will be larger in population and the premier city.

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I believe the population may have been greater in number than that of Sydney during the mid 1800's gold rush. Crime was also an increasing problem, probably due to Batman leaving and practising his business elsewhere!

Posted by Manowar on June 3, 2014 19:52

Editor Comment:

Sydney Morning Herald, June 1: Why Melbourne has planned better for growth than Sydney . . . It struck me on a recent trip south that Melburnians appear to be living in some sort of nirvana.

Crime? Sydney always has been the winner.

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Obvious but often overlooked is that For any transport system to work properly it has to be bi directional and stop at the locations people want to get to.
The Sydney monorail is the perfect example of a great system but poorly thought out. One direction and serving only a small portion of the city. So that genius of a city mayor decides to supplement it with light rail ( basically a tram) which also only serves a small portion of the city. So the monorail is then removed and sold off to some pigme villagers in southwest nowhere land and the city brains trust then installs bicycle lanes on the major streets which require cross over at major intersections. Pedestrians are now being knocked over like ten pins so they then decide to place a speed limit of 40 kmh on city streets.
Most people wish they could travel at 20kmh, maybe at 3.00am in the morning dodging the garbage trucks.
No system is perfect but they need to decide on one only, design it properly and install it through the whole area.

Posted by Manowar on June 3, 2014 20:22

Editor Comment:

Sydney hasn't got a lot right apart from the bridge and the Opera House. Consult Paul Keating.

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San Diego has a relatively new Trolly system that is VERY popular and is being expanded. It is a good thing and would be great in Phuket too.

Posted by bodysurf Nai Harn on June 3, 2014 20:50

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Sydney is still too centralised, expansion can only occur towards the SW as the north and south are National parks and the west is flood plain. Peak hour traffic lasts 3.5 hrs and increasing daily, crime is mainly in the west and also increasing, but they are slowly knocking each other off.
If you tried to build the SHB or the Opera House today you would have no chance as every environmentalist and treehugger would protest until the idea was discarded.

Posted by Manowar on June 3, 2014 20:53

Editor Comment:

Maybe a casino shaped like a koala might be approved.

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Paul's still managing a piggery somewhere in the Banana Republic he had to have. Malcolm and Gough also reside nearby but it's not that they don't want to talk, they just can't anymore. They are operating a rehab clinic for current politicians who suffer from pre ICAC hearing memory loss. It is very successful as upon completion of the course, which coincidentally is the day after the ICAC hearing concludes, each patient has fully recovered.

Posted by Manowar on June 3, 2014 21:16

Editor Comment:

I am told politicians more recently have not learned any lessons. The current prime minister has even been offered a job as the butt of jokes on US talk shows for as long as he wants. Fame and fortune at last.

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ed ... the big difference between Melb/ Adelaides tram services and the proposal for Phuket is
1/ they had the tram lines in well before development not after
2/ they do not have the suicide scooters /van drivers and tuks tuks to compete with ... i can only shudder to imagine the accidents ,,

imo overhead skytrain is the only viable solution , it can be constructed with minimal interference and in stages , stage 1 airport to Central , stage 2 central to rawai , stage 3 central to patong ....

trams are 100% the wrong choice for the island,,,,,

Posted by chris on June 3, 2014 21:38

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... eh Laurie? Never a constructive thought or idea, just petty put-downs . .

Kettle, Pot, Black Mr. Morison.

Posted by Bob on June 4, 2014 05:50

Editor Comment:

Everything I say is constructive, Bob.

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Trams on Phuket where not even simple roads can be fixed within years or basic traffic laws are recognized ? You know what happens when a car is parking on the rails ? 50+ people sit in the tram and wait for the driver to come to move his car ! Dream on??? not in this century !

Posted by Resident on June 4, 2014 08:51

Editor Comment:

Total negativity, Resident. Doomsayers have nothing to add. The world would be better if all no-hopers had to prove their ability to think straight and be licensed before abusing the Internet.

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ed ..what is your argument against the skytrain ? as opposed to the tram idea ...

Posted by chris on June 4, 2014 09:43

Editor Comment:

A skytrain would take 30 to 100 times the budget and 10 times as long to build. There aren't the numbers of people living on Phuket to justify that kind of expenditure, now or in 10 years, even with condos everywhere. And there isn't room on Phuket for a skytrain. Apart from the ugly aesthetics and the huge cost, it ain't ever going to fit on Phuket. Take a look at the massive scale of the skytrain next time you're in Bangkok then maybe you'll understand. It's pretty simple.

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simple for small minds i guess Ed !! thats been the trouble on Phuket in the past , short term solutions, not long term world class solutions ... your argument does not stack up ... Trams , a donkey ride would be faster ..

Posted by chris on June 4, 2014 11:05

Editor Comment:

Total nonsense as usual, chris. You're another no-value Doomsaying no-hoper. Bye bye.

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Trams, trolley cars and light rail work all around the world.
Why not in Phuket.
All the good news is getting me giddy for my next visit and I still think Phuket and the beauty the tourists never get to see can be saved.

Posted by arthur on June 4, 2014 14:30


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