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Part of the documentation from Dohwa for the Phuket project today

Phuket Public Transport: National Government Says 'Go, Go, Go'

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
News Analysis

PHUKET: Thailand's Government want to fast-track Phuket's public transport development as soon as possible, Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha said today.

He was speaking to Phuketwan before meeting one of several engineering construction firms that all appear keen to pursue the project, whether it's a light rail system or a bus network.

Governor Tri said: ''I was contacted by the government three days ago and they are extremely keen to pursue this project, whether the construction company is Chinese or Korean.''

He told Phuketwan that he intended to reschedule all the leading contenders for presentations on Phuket over the next two months and within a week appoint a special committee to announce the winning company before the end of 2012.

Today it was the turn again of Korea-based Dohwa Engineering to make a presentation, with President of the Railway/Metro Division Sung-Min Lee involved for the first time.

Mr Lee said the process for the Phuket project seemed longer than most. When asked when the company would be in a position to start construction, he said: ''Immediately.''

While Dohwa has plenty of experience in Korea and has constructed projects in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, this would be their first project in Thailand.

''Phuket has potential, with tourist numbers growing,'' Mr Lee said when asked why Dohwa was interested in public transport on Phuket.

Cabinet approval should see the Phuket project pursued more effectively from now on, but the Phuket governor's special committee will need to cut through quite a bit of project-speak to reach the core pieces of information.

For example, like many of the bidders, Dohwa's figures on the number of tourists visiting Phuket seem grossly inflated. Unless the figures on tourists are accurate, the sums won't add up.

Here are some of the key questions that the special committee needs to answer:

..How many tourists arriving on Phuket by air will want to take the long way around journey through Phuket City, on the east coast, when it's much, much faster to take a cab or a bus down the west coast direct to Surin, Kamala Patong and Kata-Karon?

..Phuket's traffic congestion and road safety will only be improved if local also use the system, whether it's light rail or buses. How will Phuket's administration force Phuket's population to give up their highly-convenient yet dangerous motorcycles to catch public transport instead?

..How will constructors make money on their project if the fare is pitched beyond what locals are willing to pay?

Phuketwan's view is that while there are any number of worthy contenders for the project, making it better value than a motorcycle is the hardest part. If it's only for tourists, then it's a huge waste of money.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I want to believe. I really do. However...

Posted by agogohome on May 23, 2012 12:43


In Phuket, there are 1M people including 100,000 tourists when all hotels are fully booked.
Mass transit transport has to be adapted to local people who are using cars and motorcycles when going to work or moving around Phuket.
Most of tourists will never use a mass transit system as all large tour-operators want to organize private transfers in order their guides sell tours before reaching hotels.
Look at Bangkok and the train between Suvarnabhumi and is empty and will never work.
Mass-transit system by buses is the most flexible transport that will fit Phuket as routes, timings and numbers of buses may be adapted according to request without forgetting the prices which may be more affordable.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on May 23, 2012 13:01


Motorbikes will always rule. Convenience factor. Monthly rents are cheap and loans are easily available.

Focus on the 4+ million tourists that arrived in 2011 and the estimated 6+ million that will arrive this year. Buses to W. Coast beaches as well as Baht buses around each beach.

Posted by GiantFan on May 23, 2012 13:16


A decent public bus network is way overdue. The intermittent small chicken buses are filled to the gunnels with tourists come High Season and are frankly an embarrassment on this International Destination. And mostly Burmese workers for the remainder. I believe the locals might be persuaded to use a good efficient bus system in lieu of their bikes. Other countries do.

Posted by tamsin on May 23, 2012 13:55


A network of purpose-built buses running regular services from early morning to late evening would be a welcome and the most effective solution. However, prices will need to be low to attract the locals so subsidies are likely to be needed. I think a light rail service would become a white elephant.

Posted by Phiti on May 23, 2012 14:54



I have ised the train between the airport and city in BKK many times, the last time just a few days ago. It's always pretty crowded. At least the cheaper version that makes 5 or 6 stops on the way to Payathai. Have you ever used it? I would guess no.

Posted by christian on May 23, 2012 15:27


According to the photo of their manifesto, their # 1 objective is "Reliving Traffic Jam on Phuket Island". Really? That's funny, I think we already do that on a daily basis.

Posted by Sam W on May 23, 2012 16:27


Before thinking about crazy expensive project better try to fill the road with the maximum number of bus using Gpl. As many tecnician said, when the road already full by buses it will be the right times to think another solution.. Put many buses need a maximum one year.. but there is no will to do that

Posted by Dave on May 23, 2012 18:14

Editor Comment:

A deal to replace the resort buses with a public service that picked up everybody along the way would reduce the cost to resorts and cut the traffic. We've heard nobody suggest that so far.


I would like to bring up an excellent comment on this topic from a while ago, but sadly I cannot find it anymore. The commenter seemed to be a seasoned public transport expert and specially one pitch I remember: "You start a rail system when the busses jam the roads. Because nearly every tram system is bleeding cash. Only when the busses cannot cope, you build a railway system." Or so it went...

The problem in Phuket seems to be, that they would like to jump that phase because they are 1. afraid of the taxi/tuktuk ... mmh... union or monopoly. 2. a big budget is a gold opportunity for a) a lot of jobs to distribute and b) a lot of signing bonuses/kickbacks.

And I would like to add, since I talked about going green with motorbikes / tuktuks, I think two or more years ago, in China there are now said to be around 120 mill. electro scooter up and running. And I am still dreaming of electro-only motorbikes on Phuket. What a perfect PR for Phuket that would be. No more pollution / noise from tuktuk/motorbikes on the island. And for Thailand it would be a special zone for try out in small, what will be needed big.

Posted by Lena on May 23, 2012 18:15


Lena is spot on Totally agree, and it's beyond pathetic that no one is going to force the bus service option route. There are buses everywhere in the world except Phuket. Like Macau before the handover to China, you need the central government to take the bad guys out and away, whatever the cost, and move on in a civilised manner from there.

Posted by stu on May 23, 2012 19:06


Is this the comment about the proposed light rail line between Airport and Chalong that Lena was looking for?

"Obviously, most of the 5.7 million people who arrived or departed from the airport so far this year are tourists who don't travel to Phuket City from where there is no onward transport to the resorts.

Obviously, the Airport-Phuket City corridor will generate very little intermediate passenger traffic.

Obviously, a single rail line will depend heavily on good quality, high frequency feeder buses for its viability, so a bus system is a pre-requisite and should be developed now.

This (light rail line) is not a 'solution' as it will not serve the main demand, will take ten years to build, and will then require massive operating subsidy." Vox, Nov 2010

Posted by Vox on May 23, 2012 19:52


i use to work in many asian countrys and could experience the transport system there. Let`s talk about Hong Kong, Taiwan. Let`s see the good solutions. Phuket can take only few buses because it will not reduce the heavy traffic. Phuket need a mix solution. The Speedtrain Bangkok - Padang basar will come and the system in Taiwan is fantastic as it is a similar project. Phuket will be overrun if nobody do something. I live 7 years here and for me the traffic is nearly unacceptable. We need urgent Solution and we need a future thinking. Phuket should be a worldclass destination, so it needs a worldclass transport system. Now they have the big chance to create something special because money is no problem at all in thailand. Or they destroy the island forever and let traffic, nature crimes and corruption take over the island...
i am slightly pessimistic ... but i hope they prove me wrong...

Posted by mike on May 23, 2012 20:26


There are public bus systems all over the world, even Thailand !
Except Phuket !!!!

Posted by elizabeth on May 26, 2012 16:06


Nothing will happen, their first objective is for everyone to "Relive" the traffic jams, another thing, for locals to use public transport, how do they get to and from the train/bus station, imagine the parking space required.

Posted by Laurie Howells on May 26, 2012 16:41

Thursday May 30, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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