Drive to legalize “black’ taxis
PHUKET TOWN: The Phuket Provincial Transportation Office (PPTO) expects 50 to 100 drivers to register their vehicles as private metered taxis in the coming month. Teerayuth Prasertphol, Deputy Chief of the PPTO, told the Gazette that he expected the cabs to come from among the 800 or so “black” taxis currently operating illegally in Phuket. Once the registration period is over, operators of black taxis may be fined for operating without a license, he warned. “As long as their cars are not more than six years old, they can register as metered taxis from today,” he said. “About 30 people have already contacted us to register. It takes just three days for a license to be granted.” The vehicles must also be covered by third party insurance before their drivers can qualify for a license. K. Teerayuth explained that a metered taxi will have a service life of no more than 12 years. All the cabs must be painted in the same colors: yellow for the top half and red for the lower half. This will distinguish them from the 24 existing metered taxis in Phuket, which are yellow on top and blue or green below. Rates will be set by the PPTO and controlled by a microchip in the meter. Any distance up to two kilometers will be charged at a flat rate of 50 baht. The tariff for the subsequent 20 kilometers will be seven baht per kilometer, while distances beyond 22 kilometers will be charged at six baht a kilometer. K. Teerayuth outlined measures to keep the peace over the contentious issue of metered taxis picking up fares at Phuket International Airport, where “limousine” drivers pay hefty concession fees and are not keen to encounter non-fee-paying competition. “Governor Udomsak Usawarangura has ordered that only five metered taxis may wait within the [airport grounds] at any time. Other metered taxis must wait outside the airport and may enter only when they see another [metered] taxi driving out the gates.” K. Teerayuth added that passengers using metered taxis from the airport would be required to pay a 100-baht surcharge.
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