PHUKET: The Phuket Provincial Administration Organization’s “Pink Bus” project providing reasonably-priced public transport for Phuket City residents has won a national award for “Local Innovation” from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The award was one of 61 awarded to local administration offices by a new Prime Minister’s Office committee on decentralization of power to local administration organizations. A total of 1,003 projects were nominated nationwide.
PPAO President Paiboon Upatising accepted the award from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House in Bangkok on the morning of September 17.
It was the first-ever presentation of the Thai Local Innovation awards, a project started by the Abhisit administration.
The presentation was followed by speeches by academics on the topic of “Local Innovation in the First Decade of Decentralization”. Attendees also viewed exhibits detailing the various projects on display in the Santi Maitri Building at Government House.
In his address, PM Abhisit defined the term “local innovation” as any change in government-sector service with a clear public benefit.
The awards will help local administration organizations learn from each other in adopting such innovations, he said.
Mr Paiboon said the Pink Bus project was nominated by a team of researchers from Walailak University in Nakhon Sri Thammarat. The academics served as consultants for the Prime Minister’s Office for the southern region.
The Pink Buses, known locally as Po Thong, were introduced by PPAO President Paiboon in September last year.
The fleet of 16 songtaew (“two-row”) open-air buses gradually replaced a fleet of mechanically-plagued air-conditioned minibuses introduced by a previous PPAO administration.
None of the 16 green minibuses are still in operation. A source at the PPAO said the organization was still unsure of what to do with old green buses, as they were too run down to justify the cost of repair or replacement.
The Pink Buses run the same two routes as their predecessors: Route 1: Big C to Saphan Hin; and Route 2: Super Cheap to the Fresh Market on Chao Fa East Road. Fares are 10 baht for all journeys and free for children.
A third route connecting Koh Sireh in Rassada to Phuket Town is the next route planned.
In the latest development, PPAO officials are now inspecting 73 newly-installed signs at bus stops along both routes.
Chutaporn Chantat, an officer at PPAO Supplies and Property Division, said work installing the signs was carried out under a two-million-baht budget, with work beginning March 31 and ending September 15.
As with other projects carried out by the current PPAO administration, the signs are pink.
As this goes to print, PPAO inspectors were preparing to inspect the signs to ensure construction meets all specifications as required under the contract.
The signs, which will be illuminated at night, are in English and bear the route number of buses that stop at each location.
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