PHUKET: The move to increase bus fares nationwide will not affect buses operating within Phuket, the local Transport Office chief has confirmed.
The news follows Thai Passenger Bus Association Chairwoman Sujinda Cherdchai meeting Department of Land Transport Director-General Tienchote Chongpeepien yesterday.
The meeting was called by Ms Sujinda, whose group is seeking to increase bus fares by six satang per kilometer to cover expenses.
The request follows fuel prices rising 14.7% over the past year, as announced earlier this month by Yanyong Puangrach, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce.
Phuket Land Transport Office Chief Kanok Siripanichkorn explained to the Gazette that even if the request is approved, it will only affect buses from Bangkok to the provinces and other inter-provincial routes.
Buses within Phuket, such as the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (PPAO) pink bus and buses from Phuket Town to different areas on island, such as Patong, Kamala, Kata and Rawai, will not be affected by the price rise if approved, said Mr Kanok.
Privately-run songtaew, which operate from the Downtown Market on Ranong Road in Phuket Town, will also not be affected by any price hike, said Mr Kanok.
“The discussion in Bangkok is just a small step to ease the problem,” said Mr Kanok.
“It is not that easy to suddenly increase bus fares. The Cabinet must thoroughly consider any price hike requests before approving them, making sure that no undue burden is passed onto passengers,” he added.
However, the rise would affect buses between Phuket and nearby tourist destinations in Phang Nga or Krabi provinces, he added.
If approved, the rise would amount to an increase of about 48 baht on fares between Bangkok and Phuket, which currently cost from about 800 baht up to 1,200 baht for “VIP” buses.
The chief also announced that as part of the PPTO’s annual road-safety campaign in the run-up to the upcoming holidays, drivers on inter-provincial buses are being tested for alcohol before getting on board.
“This is to assure passengers that drivers are not drunk driving,” Mr Kanok said.
Renowned as the “Seven Days of Danger”, the end-of-year holiday period is notorious for the carnage on Thai roadways. This year the period runs from December 29 to January 4.
Breathalyzer tests will continue throughout, he added.
The PPTO will operate a hotline (Tel: 1584) during the Seven Days to receive complaints about bus services and provide information about bus schedules.
Motorists planning to go it alone on the road during the period are welcome to take advantage of free vehicle safety inspections, added the chief.
The free car and motorcycle checks are being offered until December 28 at four locations:
Thalang: Thepkrasattri Road, one in front of the Srisoonthon Tambon Administration Organization and another at the Phuket Highway Police box in Muang Mai.
Kathu: At the Caltex gas station in Kathu Municipality.
Phuket Town: The Phuket Land Transport Office at Saphan Hin.
Service will be provided during normal working hours at the Land Transport Office and for most of the day at the other locations.
“We will check the vehicles free of charge. If we find any problems, we will inform the drivers to fix them before they start their travel,” Mr Kanok said.
— Pimwara Choksakulpan
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