Bus company boss finally gives up

PHUKET TOWN: Samkhan Saengfai, who a year ago proposed to launch Phuket’s first local bus service, has finally admitted defeat. K. Samkhan, managing director of PB Holdings, told the Gazette that his company would relinquish the concession it was awarded for two bus routes in Phuket Town. He explained that he had decided to pull out because the company would not survive if it could collect only 10 baht from each passenger, as is stipulated in the concession agreement. “The original proposal was submitted when the price of diesel was at 6 baht a liter, and we set the fares based on that price. Now, the price of diesel has doubled but we cannot raise the fares. I don’t think the company could survive with that,” he said. K. Samkhan, who is also a member of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor), is now proposing that the OrBorJor take over the concession, but using battery-operated electrical buses. These buses, he said, are made in China, where they are widely used. “They are very quiet – there would be no noise pollution. The Chiang Mai Municipality started a service recently, using this type of bus.” K Samkhan said that the OrBorJor could start by operating the service itself and then later privatize it. An advantage of this approach, he noted, would be that the OrBorJor would be able to afford new buses, whereas PB Holdings could afford only secondhand buses. Somchai Duangkae, the chairman of OrBorJor, said that the OrBorJor Communications Committee is now studying the feasibility of the proposal. No decision has yet been made.

Phuket News
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