A privately-run ferry service from Pattaya to Hua Hin is expected to start operations on Jan 1, the Marine Department says, but the ride will be initially limited to a daily round-trip and cater only to passengers, not vehicles.
The service, operated by Royal Passenger Liner Co, is being implemented as the first phrase of the government’s East-West Ferry Project to accommodate tourism and logistic activities between the resort towns of Pattaya in Chon Buri province and Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
The department's director-general Sorasak Sansombat said Royal Passenger Liner was the only firm to apply for a licence to operate the Pattaya-Sattahip-Cha-am-Hua Hin ferry ride after applications open on Aug 9, and passed a selection process on Sept 30. A ferry committee was inspecting the firm’s documents and readiness for the service, upgrading arrival and departure ports for safety, and finding the appropriate fares.
The panel was expected to reach its conclusions on Dec 15, Mr Sorasak said, and the service would start on Jan 1 as a New Year gift for the public.
To drive between the resort towns currently takes five to six hours, but the ferry will shorten travel time by about two-thirds. The firm’s ferry would cruise at 27 knots on the 113-km journey across the Gulf of Thailand with a maximum passenger capacity of 150 for each trip. A bigger ferry carrying up to 260 people would be added to the service later, Mr Sorasak said.
A feasibility study on the car service and suitable routes was expected to be completed this month, and an environmental impact assessment would be conducted later, he added.
The East-West Ferry Project also includes construction of a deep-sea port in Prachuap Khiri Khan to cater for cargo shipments. Full services for both passengers and vehicular ferries along with the new port are expected to be up and running in 2020.