City bus service “to start next month’

PHUKET TOWN: Phuket Town’s first real bus service – originally scheduled to start in May last year and then postponed to January this year – is expected finally to be up and running some time in April. Introduction of the service has been delayed because PB Holdings, the bus operator, was not able to find 26 buses of the right size. Most buses in Thailand are 10 meters long which, for Phuket Town’s narrow streets and tight corners, is too long. “We’ve been able to find six eight-meter buses,” Samkhan Saengfai, managing director of PB, told the Gazette. “They are used, from Korat, and cost about 500,000 baht each. We will start with these buses first, running on just one route.” This route will run between Baan Sam Kong School and Phuket Vocational Education College. The second route, which will start once the company can find more buses, will run between Rajabhat Phuket Institute and Laem Chan Health Office. Initially, the fare – as stated in the original plan – will be five baht for the entire route but it is unlikely it will remain that low for long. “When we submitted the proposal to the Department of Land Transportation, diesel cost six or seven baht a liter. Now it is about 12 baht. If I cannot raise the fare, I don’t see how I will be able to keep the operation running. I will have no choice but to raise it to about 10 baht,” said K Samkhan. This is still cheaper than the existing options: taking a tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi along either route costs 20 to 30 baht. Initially, however, PB Holdings will try to tough it out with the five-baht fare and see how it goes. Meanwhile, the company has decided to cut costs by reducing the number of buses to about six per route, though K Samkhan admitted, “At least 10 [per route] will be needed to keep the service running smoothly.”

Phuket News
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