Phuket Bus Terminal inches forward to opening

PHUKET: Phuket Bus Terminal 2 should open by mid-year, after which time an unprecedented traffic control experiment will begin on Thepkrasattri Road, officials say.

Kanok Siripanichkorn, chief of Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO), this week assured the Phuket Gazette that the new terminal will open no later than June.

Work on Phuket Bus Terminal 2 was completed in December 2009, but neither Rassada Municipality nor the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization, citing financial constraints, agreed to take over its day-to-day operation.

The 128-million-baht facility has thus remained vacant for the past 14 months. That will become 18 months if it (really) opens its doors in June.

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The PLTO is now waiting for the Phuket Highways Department to install a set of traffic lights that will allow buses to complete U-turns to head north on Thepkrasattri Road.

“Actually, we would have liked to open the terminal on April 1, but we still need to wait for the Phuket Provincial Highways Department to finish installing the traffic signals,” Mr Kanok told a recent meeting of the provincial committee on land transport issues.

There will be a three-month trial to see whether road users are “confused” by the new system, he said.

Under the plan, buses will leave the station and travel south along the breakdown lane until they reach the U-turn at Tantalum Junction.

The traffic signals there will intermittently signal traffic in all other lanes to stop so the large buses can make U-turns from the breakdown lane.

The U-turn problem is now the only factor holding back the opening. In terms of terminal management, the PLTO is ready to proceed, Mr Kanok said.

“We have prepared all the officers and facilities and are more than ready to open it, but we want the new traffic system to be as clear as possible to the public before doing so,” he explained.

In the interim, Phuket Bus Terminal 1, on Phang Nga Road in the heart of Phuket Town, will continue to provide all inter-provincial bus services.

“The current bus terminal in Phuket Town can still serve passengers. We want everything to be ready; otherwise we will definitely be criticized for having rushed,” Mr Kanok said.

“The current terminal is crowded only during the holiday periods, such as New Year and Songkran. Currently the bus terminal is not crowded, so we can still use it,” he said.

For a previous Phuket Gazette editorial about the controversial U-turn plan click here.

— Janpen Upatising

Phuket News
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