Phuket limits buses on hillside road


PHUKET, 20 September 2017: Phuket authorities are banning tour buses of 21 seats, or more, from driving over Patong Hill during peak hours.

Authorities were installing signs, Tuesday, on both sides of the hilly road that leads to Patong Bay. The road descends in a series of hairpin bends for around 3 to 4 km.

The signs ban buses from driving over the hill from 0600 to 0900 in the morning and 1600 to 2300 in the evening.

The move is in response to three bus accidents that occurred in July and August on the winding road descent to the resort town.

All three accidents involved Chinese tour buses, operated by local agencies that are wholly or partly owned by Chinese tour operators.

There were fatalities in two of the accidents. One bus slid partly off the hilly road almost careering down a  gorge.  The other bus lost control on the descent and rammed a building at the bottom of the hill.

Police blamed the accidents on driver incompetence, speeding and possible mechanical failures.

Hoteliers based in Patong said the ban would impact on their Chinese bookings.

Tour buses usually leave hotels in the early morning for day tours and return in the evening for dinner. It will also impact on transfers to the airport.

One hotelier told TTR Weekly it would spell disaster for Patong hotels that rely heavily on Chinese tour groups.  If the ban is enforced without any exceptions hotels on mainbay Patong will have to go for smaller Chinese groups and FIT travellers.

However, it could benefit hotels elsewhere served by roads that are not included in the ban.

Buses with fewer than 21 seats are exempt along with the 12-seat commuter vans.