Phuket Town-Patong bus system plan dusted off

Posted on May 8, 2015


A feasibility study carried out nine years ago into a has been dusted off after Deputy PM Pridiyathorn Devakula’s suggestion two weeks ago that a second phase of the Phuket Light Rail System (LRS) be created to link Phuket Town with Patong.

The 2006 BRT study will have to be revised however, because of changes on the island. For example the underpass next to Central Festival was not envisaged in 2006.At a meeting on Wednesday (May 6) Sirigate Apirat, the senior policy and planning officer of the Office of Transport and Traffic Planning (OTTP) said at the meeting, “In this [BRT] there were seven proposed routes with priority given to Phuket Airport-Chalong, Patong-Central Festival and Bang Ku-Chalong.

“The 2006 study looked at feasibility and investment return, and a poll showed that 80 per cent of people believed the most needed route was between Patong and Phuket Town.”

Governor Nisit Jansomwong, who chaired the meeting, asked Mr Sirigate, if no tunnel were built through Patong Hill, would a tram be capable of going up the hill?

“He [the deputy PM] told me that an LRT can go up the hill, but I don’t know about that,” said Gov Nisit.

Mr Sirigate replied, “We need to look at the area and what kind of electrical system would be needed for a tram to go up the hill. But I don’t think it would be possible.”

Wongsaorn Noonchukan, Chief of the Phuket Office of the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning, said, “We might not even need an additional line. Tourists might choose to use a taxi.

“However, we want to reduce the traffic. If we have this [BRT] it will reduce traffic.” Patong Mayor Chalermlak Kebsup wondered why the Central underpass was a factor. She said, “I thought, from what the Deputy PM said, the plan was to run the second phase from Bang Ku to the Tesco Lotus intersection then right into Phra Phuket Kaew Rd, through the Si Ko intersection [in Kathu] then Phra Baramee Rd, finishing around Phra Metta [on Phang Muang Sai Ko Rd].

“We will need to consider again if it will pass Jungceylon or not. If a tunnel is built there will be a flyover there and there will be space below. But the beach front is certainly impossible.”

Mr Sirigate also gave the meeting an update on progress of phase one of the LRS.

“We are now at the planning stage, but the planning committee have noticed that the project still lacks some details, and there are other details which will need to be adjusted to fit in with Phuket province.

“What we are adjusting now is the line from Tha-Noon [in Phang Nga] to Phuket International Airport. We initally thought we could use a spare lane on Thepkasattri Bridge but we have now decided to use the Srisoontorn bridge because the traffic around Tha Chat Chai is dangerous.

“I think it will take two months for the new design for this to be completed and then we can bring it back to the committee,” said Mr Sirigate.

Other problems which the OTTP face are the line to the airport where expropriation of land is an issue, and also identifying a suitable way of transfering those passengers who don’t want to go via the Airport into Phuket Town.

Mr Sirigate also said that in downtown Phuket Town the rail system could be built only at street level, meaning that trains would share the road with other vehicles, so traffic routes would have to be adjusted.

Gov Nisit wrapped up the meeting. “The first phase will surely be built because there have been lots of studies done and the feasibility study shows that it’s worth investing in.

“However, the Deputy PM would like us to plan ahead for the second phase to Patong, and he would like to see a draft proposal for that.”

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