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Officials bow out of Phuket Airport Express bus launch

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PHUKET: The long-awaited Phuket airport-to-beach bus hit the road at 9:30am today with little fanfare.

Passengers on the inaugural ride from Phuket International Airport to Patong included media, tourists and relatives of bus operator Prakob Panyawai. No Phuket officials were along for the ride.

Married couple Ben and Kim, first-time visitors from England, had just arrived from Kuala Lumpur and were headed to Kata.

“We just found out about the bus. We were getting in a bus to Phuket Town, then heard we could go directly to Patong,” said Ben.

The couple was surprised to learn that a taxi ride to Patong could have cost them 1,000 baht.

“It’s very good to have this bus; 120 baht is very cheap and the bus is very good,” said Ben.

“Our destination is Kata beach. It’s great that the bus is taking us closer to Kata instead of to Phuket Town,” Ben added.

The bus operator’s mother, Somjit Pantawai, 70, and aunt, Jongkol Panyawai, 73, were also along for the ride to Patong.

“I’m very happy the bus has finally been launched,” Mrs Jongkol said.

“We have been waiting for four months to see it happen,” she added.

“We wanted to go all the way to Kata-Karon but local people wouldn’t allow us,” she lamented.

Mr Prakob said, “We planned to have a big celebration at the airport for the first bus, but changed our minds after talking to officials.”

“The bus is still a sensitive topic, so we are giving it a simple launch, without officials,” he explained.

— Chutharat Plerin

 

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