Phuket’s tram plan may be replaced with electric bus rapid transit
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Thursday reported on the progress of the mass transit system (tram) for Phuket province at the mobile Cabinet meeting in the province.
The pilot tram route was planned from Phuket International Airport to Ha Yaek Chalong, a distance of 41.7 kilometres, with a
budget of approximately Bt35 billion.
Initially, the ministry had given the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) to consider adjusting the operating system to reduce construction costs due to the fact that large cities in foreign countries have adapted to use rubber-wheeled electric vehicles (EV) since they can save more than Bt10 billion in construction costs and cheaper fare.
However, the MRTA is still in the process of designing the project details. Therefore, the project can still be improved. The draft terms of reference do not specify that it must be developed into a train tram only. So, as time changes, It should be replaced by the traditional bus that is less expensive and worthwhile.
According to the latest study, only about 39,000 passengers per day were found to be using the system.
In this regard, the adjustment of the bus system will take less time to consider suitable alternative transportation systems. The plan seems to have been changed to a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), but with electric vehicles (EVs) run on the centre of the road. It is expected to be proposed to the Cabinet for approval within this year and open for service in 2026.
"Using road medians should not be a problem. The MRTA has discussed with the Department of Highways to dismantle the road medians, rework the road surface and use the barrier between the lanes of the BRT bus and general cars," said Saksayam.
He also said to use the road median area to develop the BRT bus route, the MRTA must study the opportunity to develop a commercial area or further adjustment.
The distance is approximately 42km and has 21 stations. In the future, there are plans for this project to connect with trains going to Phang Nga at Phuket Airport to facilitate travel for people and tourists travelling to Phang Nga province.