At this moment, Chiang Mai appears to be the hub of hubs,
with PM Thaksin Shinawatra, a Chiang Mai local as he proudly boasts, leading
the charge. There are new projects from the government now in progress, such
as the aviation hub, medical and health hub, the Night Safari Zoo, the
National Convention Center, Mass Transport System, and many others.
Ham harbor under construction.
Whilst these will revitalize the Chiang Mai economy, they
will also bring (even more) traffic congestion. However, nobody has paid
much attention to public transportation by boat, despite the fact that the
Ping River runs through the heart of the city.
Preecha Vorakul, president of Fah Ham Tambon
Administration Organization, sees the prospect in conducting a public
shuttle boat service from tambon Fah Ham pier to Chan Som Bridge, known as
the Waroros Market.
- the new alternative for Chiang Mai people.
This idea began five years ago and is gradually being
realized. The first budget of 1.5 million baht was spent with 300,000 baht
for building the boats and constructing a new pier behind Wat Ka Jao, on a
19 rai plot of public land.
The first boat trip was set to be inaugurated on December
5, the birthday of His Majesty the King, with Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai
governor presiding. This project, if fully utilized, will decrease traffic
jams on the main roads, reduce the number of private cars going downtown,
and solve the air pollution problem in the city.
River Cruise Travel Service.
The first shuttle boat can seat up to 25 passengers, and
will run from Fah Ham pier to Chan Som Bridge. The boat will also call in to
the Ton Lum Yai Market pier and Maung Mai Market pier every hour. The
operating hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily. The fees are 10 and 15 baht
for a single trip. All boat drivers and steersmen are well trained by the
Harbor Department and have certificates. Every seat on the boat is equipped
with a life jacket.
As demand increases for the service, Fah Ham TAO plans to
increase the number of boats to five by 2007. Expansion proposals have
received the green light, and the route may go up to Mae Rim district in the
Preecha Natrangamkum, who owns the Mae Ping River Cruise
boat at Wat Chai Mongkol pier and one of the promoters of public
transportation by river, and the investors in the municipality, said that he
proposed this project in 1997 when Bussaba Yodbangtoey was mayor of Chiang
Unfortunately, nothing came of the proposal at the time.
Now he has proposed the project to the municipality headed by Boonlert
Buranuprakorn, but has not yet received a reply. According to his project,
11 piers will be constructed and 10 boats with 20-30 seats will be built.
The total budget is 10 million baht.
“I live in Chiang Mai and have seen the congested
Charoenprated Road where many schools are located, for example, Montfort
School, Regina, Sacred Heart College, and Chairot School. It would be better
if we have a river transport system. I have already proposed in the plan
that a Walk Way should be constructed for students to walk to the pier.
During rush hour, the number of boats should be increased,” said Preecha.
He added that he wished the project would be realized as it would add
spice to the city, promote the province and ease people’s lives. His
company would look after the service and the management. The municipality
would get back some of the profits. He also supported the Fah Ham boat
project, trained the boat drivers and helped decorate the boats.