Green bus service to be upgraded
PHUKET TOWN: In a revamp of its Phuket Town bus service, the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) is planning to buy 16 minibuses to replace its current fleet of 12 leased Mercedes Benz buses. The move is intended to increase the frequency of service in a bid to boost passenger numbers. The OrBorJor also plans to farm out the running of the bus service to a private company. The minibuses, which – unlike the current buses – will not be air-conditioned, will be six meters long and will seat 18 passengers. The fare and the daily service period of 6 am to 8 pm will remain the same, but times between buses should be substantially reduced. The new buses will cost about 22 million baht to buy and will come into service in August. “We won’t renew the lease contract because it costs a lot more to run the system with leased vehicles than if we own them outright,” said Samroeng Chaisorn, Vice-President of the OrBorJor. The service currently operates at a loss of more than 1.3 million baht a month. While it takes in some 400,000 baht a month in fares, K. Samroeng explained that the OrBorJor spends 1,700 baht a day in rental fees for each bus and 3,100 baht to service, staff and fuel each vehicle – a total of 1.73 million a month. He said he was optimistic that outright ownership of the buses would improve the bottom line. “We’ll own the buses ourselves, so I’m sure we’ll make a profit,” he said. Once the new buses are running, the management of the service will be let out to a private company under a three-year concession agreement. When asked how the new operator would be chosen, K. Samroeng said, “We will choose the company that offers the best bid.”
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