Monorail proposal to be aired

PHUKET: A proposal to build a passenger monorail system in Phuket will undergo its first public hearing in February. The aim of the hearing is to allow discussion between those likely to be affected by the project and the consultancies responsible for the planning and routing of the monorail.

The proposed system would provide a route between the airport and Phuket City with a west coast route taking in the Patong area.

After ideas are gathered from the February meeting, a second public hearing is scheduled for April to consolidate the results of the initial brainstorming session.

About 80 people are expected to attend each meeting. Tawee Homhuan, Committee Member and Engineer at the Phuket Public Works and Town and Country Planning Office, commented: “We must ensure that we follow correct town planning regulations and make sure that any construction is done within the correct zones. “The hearings are set up to host 80 people,” he added.

He said, “Really, I think at least 800 people should attend,” but added that this was unlikely. In his experience, only a few dozen people would attend hearings, but when actual work started on a project, hundreds would turn out to protest its negative impact on their lives.

He also noted that the greatest potential problem with a project such as the monorail is that it would need to cross private land. He also pointed out that, in Phuket’s case and especially in Patong – where one rai of land can fetch up to 40 million baht – the government might not be able to afford to buy the land required.

Vice-Governor Niran Kalayanamit today chaired a committee meeting with the three monorail consultancies; Dr Tawatchai Laosirihongthong, Director of the Traffic and Transport Development and Research Center at the King Mongkut University of Technology in Thonburi; EO System Engineering Consultants; and Pyramid Development International Corp (PDIC).

PDIC is the architectural company responsible for Bangkok’s Mass Transit Railway.

At the meeting, public transport specialist Somprasong Satatiyamullay explained that a monorail would help solve much of Phuket’s traffic congestion, alleviate air pollution and reduce road accident statistics, as well as reducing tourists’ transport costs.

K. Somprasong said that the inception report would be compiled over a period of seven months, ending next May. The report will focus on seven aspects: legal feasibility; funding; planning; architectural design; environmental impact; engineering, and organizations involved in the project.

He also said that, in 2001, a request was sent to the Prince of Songkla University (PSU) to research alternative transport solutions for Phuket and to produce a feasibility study. The three consultancies then studied the PSU report and were drawn to the monorail solution.

He added, “At the moment about 90% of people on the island use their own vehicles, maybe because they feel that public transport is not reliable and possibly because it cannot meet demand.”

Dr Tawatchai added, “Phuket’s roadsides are lined with parked motorcycles and peddlers selling their wares as well as tuk tuks parked one after the other in Patong. There’s no parking space. Phuket is an international city, so visitors have high expectations as to the quality of life and services they will find here.”

He explained that, to make the monorail project successful, public and private investment returns would have to be studied, along with careful assessment of the project’s environmental impact to ensure minimal damage.

Phuket News
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