The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has been ordered to review the plan to construct a mass transit system (tram) for Phuket province to cope with rising construction costs, a source from the Transport Ministry said on Friday.
The project will cover a 42km distance from Phuket International Airport to the Chalong intersection with the aim of facilitating commuting at a reasonable price.
The Transport Ministry has ordered the MRTA to review the project as the ministry believes that rubber-wheeled electric vehicles would save up to THB15.28 billion in construction costs, reduce the construction period from the current nine months and offer cheaper fares.
A source said the ministry has told the MRTA to review the project in keeping with the current situation, as well as reduce investment costs as much as possible, to enable citizens to use services at THB20-40 per trip.
It added that the MRTA has also been ordered to discuss with the Highways Department the possibility of setting up routes on highway areas in a bid to lower construction costs on tunnels and elevated roads.
“The construction costs of tunnels and elevated roads are quite high and would cause fares to rise,” a source said, adding that rising fares would cause citizens to use other modes of public transport instead.
A source added that the ministry had also advised the MRTA to study fare collection guidelines, with fares increase depending on distance, similar to Bangkok electric trains.
Fares should be collected depending on each zone as commuters in Phuket would not prefer short-distance travel, it added.
Meanwhile, MRTA governor Pakapong Sirikantramas said the agency is undertaking a feasibility study. He said the MRTA would use rubber-wheeled electric vehicles to reduce construction costs.
“In addition, the MRTA is discussing with the Highways Department to study using highway areas to support services in line with the Transport Ministry’s policy, expecting to reach conclusion within two months,” he said.
He said the MRTA board would review investments included in the revised plan before proposing to the Public-Private Partnership Committee. He also expected the bidding process to be completed this year once they get the go-ahead.
“Currently, we have to start from zero to reduce costs and make fares more reasonable,” he said, “In addition, we will study opportunities to generate revenue by developing passenger stations to be commercial areas,” he added.