31 May 2019
Phuket plans a tram project but more funding is needed
The 34.8-billion-baht project to construct a tram system in Phuket now requires another 2 billion baht in funding, following some changes to the original construction drawing, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) said on Thursday.
The changes will alleviate the need for tram tracks in certain parts, adding two to three tunnels and extending the tram route by two to three kilometres, said MRTA governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas.
These adjustments have been adopted after a meeting between the MRTA and the Department of Highways, in which Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn called on both parties to resolve their conflicts regarding the use of land along the tram route, he said.
The MRTA now expects to finalise its construction plan for the Phuket tram as quickly as possible so that the next process of drafting the terms of reference for the project’s bidding will then follow, he said. The construction of the tram project will still begin next year and services will begin in 2024 as planned, he said.
Supot Rotruang na Nongkhai, Phuket deputy governor, said while the construction plan adjustment is almost complete, BTS Group Holdings Plc, the operator of the BTS Skytrain service in Bangkok, for instance, has clearly expressed its interest in investing in this project.
Sombat Atiset, a tourism business operator in Phuket, however, said the tram project will neither benefit the resort island’s tourism sector nor ease the traffic congestion there as claimed.
Most commuters in the tourist province use motorcycles while a vast majority of tourists visiting Phuket like to stay in the province’s popular Patong area, he said.