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The days have gone when motorcycling was an adventure

Cash Boost, One Way Push as Phuket Traffic Booms

Sunday, April 13, 2008
MORE Phuket roads are to become one-way as local authorities contribute 300 million baht to help deal with growing traffic pressures.

Ten local governments have each put in 30 million baht in a project to widen Phuket's roads, with the help of the Highways Department.

Phuketwan has been told that more one-ways are likely to be introduced once the 300 million baht has been spent on repairing the roads.

''It's a cooperative effort and Phuket traffic flow will eventually improve because of this project,'' said Nid Ninlapan, chief engineer for the Highways Department.

Streets where schools bring morning and evening peak congestion are likely to be the first to become one-ways, especially in Phuket City, where successful one-ways have been in place for many years.

Side sois off main roads are now difficult to negotiate because cars and pickups are now parked in places where once there were only motorcycles.

Astonishing numbers of vehicles are now making travel times on Phuket longer, and often making drivers impatient.

Official figures from the Phuket Transport Office for 2007 show that the total number of motorcycles and cars registered for use on Phuket is 302,995.

This is not far short of the number of registered voters on the island. It also does not include vehicles brought by workers from other parts of Thailand.

''The number grows by as much as 10 percent each year now,'' said the Transport Office Chief, Chavarn Ngarmtup.

As vehicles continue to multiply at a fast rate, it's a struggle to upgrade the island's infrastructure.

The growing prosperity of most people on Phuket means there is also another factor: many families are upgrading from motorcycles to pickups or cars, but continuing to use the motorcycles as well.

The arrival of cheaper-model motorcycles and cars is also likely to accelerate the growth of vehicles on Phuket roads, especially when public transport is so limited.

Most people prefer their own vehicles, and they can afford them, to seung taews, the two-bench local buses.

The public bus service remains confined to Phuket City for now.

The number of registered motorcycles has grown from 155,578 in 2000 to 213,075 in 2007. Cars have risen from 41,421 in 2000 to 89,920.

''People on Phuket have money and the economy is so strong,'' Khun Chavarn said. ''This does not seem likely to slow down or stop.''

While the one-way system along the beach road and Rit-U-Thit-Pi-200-Road in Patong generated controversy, experts consider that as traffic increases, there is no alternative.


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