2.) Phuket Welcomes its New “Smart Bus” Service

On Wednesday, Phuket’s “Smart Bus” service was launched by Panupong Sawetarun, the permanent secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Sports. The Smart Bus service is an initiative of Phuket City Development in combination with the Rabbit X Phuket Smartcard, which will enable ‘smart’ payments for this service.

The Smart Bus service will provide a rapid connection between Phuket International Airport and Rawai Beach on the south of the island. During the opening ceremony of the much-anticipated Smart Bus, the bus took the first route, the ‘blue’ route, along the western beach road.

Between the Airport and Rawai there are 50 stops at popular areas along the 56-kilometre blue route, including Phuket’s famous Surin, Kamala, Patong, Karon, and Kata Beaches, before the bus finally reaches Rawai. The Smart Bus will travel 32 trips between the hours of 6 AM and 8 PM, with the estimated travel time of each trip being between two and three hours.

For the safety and security of passengers, the Smart Bus features a lift for disabled passengers, a safety control room, CCTV cameras, GPS, Wi-Fi, and a USB port at every seat.

A board member of Phuket City Development, Watchara Jaruariyanon, stated that, although Phuket is a popular world tourist destination, it was still lacking efficient public transportation. He added that traffic jams create many problems for travellers from the airport to the beaches or Phuket town, which negatively impacts on Phuket’s tourism. “The Smart Bus is just one part of the longer-term solution to this problem”, he said.

Watchara Jaruariyanon went on to say that the new Smart Buses were brand-new Mercedes buses, specifically chosen for their high-quality engines and braking systems; plus, they provide extensive luggage space.

Instead of using cash, travellers can pay their Smart Bus fee using Rabbit x Phuket Smartcard. Depending on the distance travelled, the Smart Bus fee will range from between Bt50 and Bt170. Payments will also be accepted by Visa, which is an official partner.