PHUKET: In a long-awaited move to eliminate unlicensed “black” taxis on the island, the Phuket Provincial Transportation Office (PPTO) and the Phuket Provincial Police will from Monday fine any such taxi caught operating on Phuket. The maximum penalty for operating an unlicensed taxi is a fine of 2,000 baht. Teerayuth Prasertphol, Deputy Chief of the PPTO, told the Gazette today that the crackdown follows a month’s grace period in which black taxi operators were given the chance to become registered as metered taxi drivers. The PPTO focused particularly on converting black taxi drivers operating at Phuket International Airport. “Before we started registering black taxis as metered taxis, there were about 50 of them operating at the airport,” K. Teerayuth said. “Now there are none.” Instead, he said, “There are now 27 metered taxis serving the airport. Only five are allowed to park inside the [airport grounds] at any time, with the rest required to wait outside. “The taxi rank is quite difficult for passengers to see, so we will discuss setting up a new rank closer to the terminal and we will put up signs to tell tourists about metered taxis,” he added. The campaign to encourage black taxi drivers to come in from the cold has prompted hundreds of them to contact the PPLO about registration, K. Teerayuth said. “About 120 black taxi drivers operating in the Laguna area have contacted us. [To operate legally] they must comply with conditions set by the PPLO and the hotels at Laguna, such as wearing uniforms and charging fixed rates. [In addition, each] taxi must have a sticker showing the taxi company’s name and the specific number for that taxi,” he said. K. Teerayuth said that about 300 black taxi drivers operating in other parts of the island have also contacted the PPLO about becoming registered. “I expect there to be more than 100 legal metered taxis by the end of April,” he said. “Registered metered taxis are safer for passengers because each must have on display the driver’s license number, his name, his address and the taxi company’s name and address, all in both Thai and English, as well as a photo of the driver,” he added. Each taxi must also have a sign informing passengers of the complaints hotline number: 1584. Metered taxi fares are set at 50 baht for the first two kilometers, and seven baht a kilometer thereafter.
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