Officials gave the green light to the low-cost hop-on, hop-off service at a meeting yesterday afternoon at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City.
Phuket Land Transport officers predicted a start to the service as soon as the buses could be checked.
But last night the managing director of the company that owns the buses and holds the contract, OS Car Rent and Tour, said it will be August before buses roll.
Prakorb Panyawai told a Phuketwan reporter who called to check the starting date: ''Our drivers are trained and ready to go but we need to do some marketing first.''
The company had paid seven million baht for its fleet of 10 buses, he said. There are eight drivers.
According to yesterday's meeting, chaired by Phuket Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada, buses will begin early morning and run through to the evening.
The frequency is likely to increase once the service has passengers. Initially it will only run as far as Patong because of resistance from the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers of Kata-Karon, south of Patong on Phuket's holiday west coast.
''We plan to offer Kata-Karon passengers a 20 percent discount on production of their ID cards,'' Khun Prakorb told Phuketwan. ''The discount could also be extended to include Patong passengers.''
Local residents are expected to benefit from the new service and take to it quickly, along with some tourists.
Many arriving passengers are expected to still use taxis from Phuket airport because the bus service, although much lower in cost, will take longer to reach Phuket's holiday coast.
Once tourists reach the Phuket City or Patong bus stops, they will still need transport to their resort or guesthouse.
''Buses will run to schedule even if they have just a few passengers,'' Khun Prakorb told Phuketwan.
He said a temporary ticketing office will be set up on the concourse at Phuket International Airport.
Airports of Thailand, which manages the airport, has yet to respond to a request for a permanent counter, he said.
A public meeting has yet to be scheduled to gauge the opinions of locals in the Kata-Karon region to the extension of the buses to that part of Phuket.
Kata-Karon tuk-tuk and taxi drivers take up most of the parking spaces in the region and continue to grow in number, despite complaints from tourists about the high fares and poor service.