Phuket Taxi Fares: Motorcycle meters on tap

PHUKET: Meters for motorcycle taxis will hit the streets of Bangkok this month in an effort to regulate fares and reduce accidents – a scheme which will soon be tested in Phuket as well.

Visitors to the Central World shopping complex in the Pathum Wan district of Bangkok will be the first to witness the meters in operation.

Approximately 24 motorcycle taxis stationed at the taxi rank there will take part in a road test over the next few days.

Per Lind, Chief Operating Officer of World Moto says, “The test is in preparation for mass production. We will also conduct a test in Phuket within the next few weeks”.

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Paul Giles, President of World Moto, began developing the concept with Chris Ziomkowski, now World Moto’s Chief Technical Officer, in 2008.

Statistics suggest there are some 180,000 motorcycle taxis operating in Bangkok alone. Of these, only 60 per cent are registered. Fares, which must be negotiated, are variable. These factors prompted Mr Giles to create a durable device that generates a standard tariff while also monitoring driving behavior.

“The Moto Meter is sealed against environmental hazards such as road dust, rain and splashing water,” Mr Giles said.

Similar to the “black box” technology in airplanes and cars, the meters will record data of interest to law enforcement and insurers.

“We hope the meters will help reduce accidents. Monitoring driving does tend to influence the way people drive,” Mr Ziomkowski said.

Passengers will also be comforted to know that the new gadget is tamper-proof. Any attempt to interfere with it will cause an immediate shut-down. This feature helps guarantee a fair price for journeys.

Drivers may not be overjoyed at having to curtail their driving skills, but compensation could come in the form of extra revenue created by advertising.

An LED screen will allow passengers to view advertising and promotions en route to their destination. This will produce revenue for both the taxi driver and World Moto.

“Once we own that space above the handlebars, there are so many things we can do with that,” Mr Giles said.

An initial investment of US$1 million by World Moto is expected to return over US$3 billion, according to Mr Giles. These figures are based on the number of motorcycle taxis worldwide, which is in excess of 20 million, and the US$180 price tag for the meter.

“The price is lower than a standard taxi meter,” Mr Giles said. “And by reducing acrimony and averting lost potential fares, it should pay for itself soon,” he added.

Although tuk-tuks in Phuket have long been the object of fierce user anger over charges for transport, motorbike taxis are not immune to the sentiment. Thus it is hoped that the taxi bosses here will embrace the new device for motorbikes and thereby take a step in the right direction for both the public and Phuket’s legions of tourists.

Phuket News
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