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New Phuket bus plan breaks “transport barrier’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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New Phuket bus plan breaks “transport barrier’ | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: After decades in the planning, a new bus service will launch on the island in March. The new route will travel between Phuket International Airport and the popular tourist beaches of Patong, Karon, and Kata via Tesco Lotus on the bypass road (click here to see map of the new bus route).

For safety reasons, Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO) chief Teerayut Prasertpol asked the Phuket Gazette not to name the operator willing to launch the bus route, but he disclosed that the company had signed a seven-year contract with the government to provide the long-awaited service.

The new service will offer “hop on, hop off” bus stops at a maximum cost of 120 baht for the entire route.

“We are not targeting tourists with the new bus service,” Mr Teerayut said. “We are pushing to develop more public transportation options for everyone on the island who cannot afford to keep using taxis and for Phuket residents who often need to travel to the airport.”

“We are planning to install bus stops in Thalang Town, at the Heroines Monument, in Koh Kaew and at the Tesco Lotus shopping mall. There will be only one stop each at Patong, Karon and Kata,” Mr Teerayut explained.

Under the terms of the government concession, the buses must be air conditioned, seat no more than 30 passengers and have room for travellers’ luggage.

“At this stage the buses are set to run every 40 minutes, starting around 6am when the first flight arrives at the airport and ending at around 1am. However, the schedule is flexible. It depends on traveller demand. It is possible the buses may run every 30 minutes. We will see,” Mr Teerayut said.

“We are also considering allowing higher fares to be charged for night buses, but they will not be much more expensive, only about 50 baht more,” he added.

Mr Teerayut stressed that the new bus service will deliver a breakthrough for public transport in Phuket.

“Think about it: If you had 1,000 baht and you were in another province, it could pay for your transport, hotel and food. In Phuket, you need that much for the taxi fare alone.

“But with the new bus service, if you have 100 baht in your pocket, you can now travel in Phuket,” he said.

MAFIA CONCERNS

Critical to getting the company to step up and launch the bus service was gaining investors’ confidence the route will be safe to operate.

“The new route operators have expressed their fears in providing the new service. They asked me what we can do to protect them from being attacked.

“I will be honest in saying that I fear local taxi operators might act as they have done in the past,” Mr Teerayut said.

“However, the situation in Phuket has changed. We cannot take it anymore. People need another option and taxi operators must accept it.”

To allay fears of violent reprisals by taxi driver “co-operatives” on the island, the PLTO had to call in support from nearly every major government office in Phuket.

“The work cannot be done by us alone. Therefore, the PLTO is working with Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut, police officers and local administration organizations. We have even talked to local taxi operators to make this route happen,” Mr Teerayut explained.

“Phuket needs to prove that we can provide public transportation for local people and tourists,” he added.

Gaining investors’ confidence that they will recoup their initial investment also took time, about three years.

“I believe the operators will recover their initial investment in about 18 months with this new route – and they believe so too, that is why they applied to provide the service,” Mr Teerayut explained.

“As I said, we are not targeting tourists. I believe people who prefer the convenience of using taxis will still use them, and they will be willing to pay more for the extra convenience. Public transportation is just another option to support the island’s tourism industry.

“At least tourists will not think that public transport on the island is just one big scam and that they do not even have a choice.

“This time the situation is different. People are more aware of the need to create a good reputation for Phuket. With the new route, we are sure that the kinds of problems we have had in the past will not happen again.

“I personally believe that everyone – even airport limousine drivers and taxi operators in Patong and Kata-Karon – all want to see Phuket’s reputation shine,” Mr Teerayut said.

This story was originally published as the page one lead story in the hard-copy issue of the Phuket Gazette that hit the newsstands on Friday.

— Chutharat Plerin

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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Thailand

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC

The Thaiger

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Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | The Thaiger

The upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi will feature Thailand’s only national marking her third fight with the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts competition. 24 year old Loma Lookboonme, from Burirram in northeastern Thailand, will fight in the event on October 3, 2020.

Loma is a Muay Thai fighter who has adapted her MMA skills to fight in the UFC where she currently trains at the Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket. Loma qualified for the national team at the age of 19 and has fought in over 12 nations worldwide. She currently trains 6 days a week starting daily at 6:30am with a 3 kilometre run. In the UFC, she will be competing against China’s Angela Lee who is the undisputed champion of the 52 kilogram fist weight category.

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | News by The Thaiger

Loma’s parents are former Muay Thai fighters and her 2 sisters currently compete as well. She reportedly started training at 8 years old after being inspired by her father, whom she describes as her “hero.”

Like most Thais in such fighting sports, Muay Thai offers a way to rise out of poverty-and fighting for the UFC can be financially lucrative. But Loma says her only Thai sponsor is the gym where she trains, with the rest of her sponsors being from foreign brands. She says she is trying to get more Thai sponsors but feels that maybe she needs to win the UFC first before Thai brands notice her.

Loma lost her last fight and says her new opponent gives her nothing to lose. She says her goal is to get into the Top 10, but is not sure when it will happen. Loma says for now, it would be good to fight against someone in the Top 10 to help her prepare for her future.

FULL INTERVIEW: Thisrupt.co

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Tourism

Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs | The Thaiger

Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the Phuket Model, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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