The Marine Department has been ordered to make a development study of a revived proposal for a ferry service across the Gulf linking Pattaya with Cha-am and Hua Hin.
Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said a fery service would stimulate tourism, the economy and trade between the east and west coasts of the Gulf of Thailand, shortening travel time to about three hours from the current six to seven hours.
He said the project had been under study since 2012 and was stalled. The National Council for Peace and Order had revived the plan. It was expected the new study would be completed by mid-2016.
The four-year investment plan from 2016 would cost an estimated four billion baht to carry up to three million people and 220,000 vehicles a year.
The first-phase investment would be the construction of the port, buildings and berths, then the service should be available from 2017.
Mr Prajin said three routes would be offered in the first stage — Pattaya in Chon Buri to Hua Hin and Pranburi in Prachuap Khiri Khan; Bang Pu in Samut Prakan to Hua Hin and Pranburi; and Bang Pu to Pattaya.
The plan was to later extend the service to between Bang Pu and Koh Chang in Trat, 146 nautical miles; Bang Pu and Koh Samui, 240 miles; and Bang Pu to Songkhla 380 miles.
He said the plan involved the use of catamaran ferries that travel at up to 82 kilometres per hour and can carry 450 passengers and 33 vehicles per trip.