The service is operated by Phuket Smart Bus Co Ltd (PKSB), an affiliate of the Phuket City Development Group of companies (PKCD).
Formed in 2016 by a consortium of 25 investors, driven by key people from prominent Phuket business families, PKCD at its launch vowed to bring a “Singapore-style” network of buses to Phuket within five years. (See story here.)
In turn, PKCD has launched the Phuket Smart Bus into public service in less than 18 months.
The buses now have 12 set stops (called “bus stations”) to pick up and drop off passengers, PKCD Executive Director Watchara Jaru-ariyanon confirmed to The Phuket News today (April 3).
“There are 12 stops in each direction along the route, from Phuket International Airport to Rawai Pier and back again. Fares range from B50 to B170, depending on the distance travelled,” he explained.
The first Smart Bus of the day departs Phuket airport at 6:45am and the last bus departs the airport at 7:15pm each night.
Likewise, the first Smart Bus departs Rawai Pier at 6:45am each day with the last of the day departing Rawai Pier at 7:15pm each night.
Details of where the buses stop – including Kata Night Plaza, Karon Circle, Jungceylon in Patong, Kamala and Surin Beach – and the fares are all posted on the website PhuketSmartBus.com (click here), Mr Watchara noted.
Details of each bus’s current location and the exact location of each bus stop are all listed on an interactive map (click here), he added.
However, Mr Watchara admitted, “The bus stops are not convenient yet because we can only pick up or drop off passengers, then the bus has to leave after a very short waiting time. This is not flexible enough for people who want to use the Smart Bus.
“We are asking through Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong for a bus stop at Phuket International Airport where the bus will be allowed to park. The Smart Bus needs time to wait for passengers.
“I can’t confirm at this stage how long the bus will be allowed to park at the bus stop at the airport yet. We are still figuring that out,” he added.
Mr Watchara reminded would-be passengers they need to purchase an e-money service “Rabbit” smartcard” in order to pay for their fares.
“The card is sold on the bus by bus hostesses at B500 each, of which B100 is the card fee and B400 is the value left remaining on the card,” he said.
The “Rabbit” smartcard needed to pay for the bus fare is an extension of the popular “Rabbit” smartcard service launched in Bangkok which also can be used as part of a nationwide program.
The Rabbit card is available at more than 60 stores in Phuket and at thousands of locales around the country, and can be topped up and offers discounts at all participating outlets, which number more than 5,000.
“This includes BTS, McDonald’s, FamilyMart, Tesco Lotus express, Mini Big C, Siam Paragon, Emporium, EmQuartier, The Mall, S & P, and others,” Mr Watchara explained at the Smart Bus official launch on Feb 28. (See story here.)