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Fear Of Attacks On Phuket's New Airport Buses Delays Launch Date


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Fear of attacks on Phuket's new airport buses delays launch date
Phuket Gazette -

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Airport Express 1, 2 and 3 ready for launch, but fear of violent attacks by tuk-tuk and taxi drivers has given leading

Phuket officials a moment of pause. Photo: Chutharat Plerin

PHUKET: The long-awaited and much supported Phuket Airport Bus Express – marking Phuket’s first 'hop on-hop off' bus service from the airport to major tourist beaches along the west coast (story here) – will not be launched this month.

The news came at a provincial transport committee meeting at the Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO) this afternoon led by ardent supporter of the new service, PLTO chief Teerayut Presertpol.

The committee agreed “in principle” to approve the new service, but vetoed the launch on the condition that tuk-tuk and taxi drivers be consulted first on whether or not they would accept it.

A gravely disappointed Mr Teerayut told the Phuket Gazette, “Actually, today I expected the committee to approve the PLTO's issuance of the needed permit to the bus operator, OS Car Rent & Tour, but they didn’t.”

Instead, the committee supported the suggestion by its chairman, Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada, that local tuk-tuk and taxi drivers be consulted first before approving any official steps toward launching the new service.

“I am worried that there will be attacks [on the bus drivers],” V/Gov Chamroen explained to the meeting.

“I am especially worried about the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in Kata-Karon,” he added.

Asked whether the provincial government would allow the local tuk-tuk and taxi drivers to decide whether or not Phuket will have the bus service, V/Gov Chamroen dodged the question, saying only that, “Phuket is still moving forward, but we will move forward cautiously.”

Dates and venues for the public feedback meetings have yet to be set, but it was agreed that such meetings were to be held before May 15, Mr Teerayut said.

The committee will not meet again before that date, he added.

Source: http://www.phuketgazette.net/phuket_news/2013/Fear-of-attacks-on-Phuket-s-new-airport-buses-delays-launch-date-20549.html

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-- Phuket Gazette 2013-03-19

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Are those buses in the picture the repainted buses that were used in Pattaya but disapeared as fast as they were introduced.

Edited by jbrain
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Taxi drivers ‘guarantee’ protest if new Phuket bus service begins

PHUKET: Taxi drivers in Karon have said they “will not allow” the planned new airport bus service to take their jobs, saying they “guarantee” protests if the buses start running.

The new bus service, that will run between the airport and Kata, was initially planned to start in March, but now a public meeting to include locals and taxi drivers has been planned for no later than May 15.

Vice-Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada, chairing a conference today (March 19) at the Provincial Transport Department to discuss the new bus service, said it was a useful and needed service for the public.

But he admitted he was worried about the reaction of taxi or tuk-tuk drivers in Kata-Karon and in Patong – through which the service will run, and which are home to some of the most fiercely territorial drivers.

But taxi drivers spoken to by The Phuket News this afternoon were against the service.

One driver was blunt. “A lot of local people here are taxi drivers, and we will not allow the bus service to take our jobs.

“They tried to do this kind of bus service around Phuket many years ago. In the end, the bus was damaged and the bus driver was hurt. The bus service has been stopped since then,” he said.

Another said, “There will be protests if the buses start running – we can guarantee that. You can also ask any other taxi driver in other areas, they will say the same.”

For people who wanted to use public transportation, he said, there are already the pink po-tong buses run by the OrBorJor from Phuket Town to Kata and Patong.

Another taxi driver admitted that there had been tourist complaints about the prices of taxis, but he said the price had been approved by the provincial authorities, and in any case could always be negotiated.

“We set the fare based on the distance. If a passenger wants to go somewhere far away, we also have to drive back a long distance after we drop them off. We have to charge more than for places that are nearby.”

Because of the territorial nature of the taxi business in Phuket, drivers may take passengers to another group’s territory, but may not pick passengers up there, with the result that they have to drive back empty to their home territory.

During today’s meeting, Teerayut Prasertpon, Director of Transport, pointed out that a company is ready to run the service and has procured vehicles, and fares have already been agreed. All that is required is the issue of the operation permit.

V/G Chamroen said worriedly, “I am afraid that local people may not accept this idea about the bus service. I want the Transportation Department to convene a meeting to include taxi organisations and local people to get their opinions.”

He also ordered Mr Teerayut “to find out and make sure about the bus stops in the Patong and Kata area.” So far, specific spaces for the buses to pull into the side of the road have been reserved only on the way to Patong, but not in the most contentious areas.

V/G Chamroen insisted that he did not want to rush into giving the go-ahead for the bus service. “I do not want us to provoke a mob over this.”

Mr Teerayut accepted the Vice-Governor’s demand for a public meeting to raise awareness. He said he would organise this no later than May 15.

He told The Phuket News after the meeting, “The bus service is for Phuket people and offers them more choice.”

He added, “This new service will be approved for sure. If I am afraid of problems and if we do nothing [because we are afraid], then the service will be postponed again and the people of Phuket will never have the benefit of it.”

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-- Phuket News 2013-03-19

Edited by Lite Beer
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If mob rule and protests are the only thing that gets local officials to act, then ordinary Thais need to grow a pair and hold a pro-bus protest.

I'll wait for a few decades before making popcorn ready for the show.

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I must say I'm disappointed. This time I really hoped to see the buses would at least get started.. and then see if something happens and how people would react to blockages.

But i guess even that is not possible in this back hole island which sucks all the positive news away.

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Suggest each bus has a small contingent of armed troops on them.

Bring in the army!

It'll never happen, but this might be a good idea for the first year or so.

I think it's the ONLY solution. And I've been saying it for years. Otherwise:

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.

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Bring in the army!

Note: The governor didn't even dare turn up - passed the buck (hot potato) to the vice-governor. Chicken!

Wasn't the Governor in Berlin, touting for TAT? A free holiday on TAT is far more important than this...

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