Phuket Airport authorities approve all ‘new’ taxis
PHUKET: Despite an Airports of Thailand (AOT) senior executive just last month announcing a freeze in the number taxi vehicles serving Phuket Airport, local officials yesterday approved every request made by local taxi operators to boost their airport fleets.
Under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by all main parties involved (see below), the Phuket Mai Khao Company and the Phuket Car Service (PCS) Co-operative will each take into their fold 25 vehicles and drivers from the Mook Andaman (“Andaman Pearl”) taxi driver co-operative.
Mook Andaman currently – and openly – provides taxi services at the airport despite not having a signed concession with AOT to do so.
Its fleet of 136 vehicles maintains a taxi rank on the street in front of the airport, which serves passengers exiting the terminal when there are not enough Phuket Mai Khao or PCS vehicles to cater to demand.
Also approved was the request filed in June by the Phuket Taxi Meter (PTM) Service Co Ltd to have 30 more taxis join its airport fleet. PTM currently has 80 metered taxis serving the airport.
Phuket Mai Khao will add 40 cars to its fleet, while PCS will have 65 vehicles (35 metered taxis, 25 limousines and five vans) added to its ranks.
All “new” taxis will begin legally providing taxi services from the airport after they have been registered as commercial passenger vehicles by the Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO).
That process is expected to be complete by January, the Phuket Gazette was told.
Also as part of the agreement, metered taxi drivers will no longer levy a “surcharge” for picking up passengers at the airport.
They must now charge 100 baht for the first kilometer.
Under the terms of the agreement, any taxi drivers who refuse to serve passengers, or who do not use the meter to determine fares, would be subject to immediate police action.
The MoU also clearly stipulates that any future increases in the number of taxis serving the airport, and any increases in the fares charged by taxi operators, must be approved by the PLTO Committee.
In turn, representatives of the taxi operators who are party to the MoU promised “not to damage Phuket’s tourism image”.
Any drivers found to have breached the terms of the agreement face possible action by the PLTO, including cancellation of the vehicle’s commercial registration.
Phuket Airport apparently reserves the right to withdraw from the agreement without any recourse for taxi drivers if the MoU is not upheld.
The boost in the number of taxi vehicles serving Phuket Airport approved yesterday flies in the face of AOT Deputy Director Wing Commander Pratheep Wichittho’s announcement, during a public visit to Phuket’s key tourism portal on October 19, that a freeze in the number of taxis serving Phuket Airport was in place until at least June next year.
However, the MoU signed yesterday stipulated that the agreement would remain in effect only until the AOT policy research project announced by Wing Cdr Pratheep had been completed.
The signatories to the MoU were:
– Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada
– Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO) chief Teerayut Prasertpol
– Phuket Airport Director Pratuang Sornkham
– Tah Chat Chai Police Superintendent Weerawat Jantarawijit
– Phuket Car Service (PCS) Cooperative representative Tara Kruepanit
– Phuket Mai Khao Company representative Somboon Champatong
– Phuket Taxi Meter (PTM) representative Sutin Champathong
– Mook Andaman co-operative president Songtham Mekmanee.
— Atchaa Khamlo
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