Phuket pushes for new taxis, new fares, amid new harsh penalties

PHUKET: The Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) has proposed a slew of changes to create a new fleet of “standard metered taxis” to serve tourists and residents throughout Phuket.

The proposed changes were handed to Col Somchai Ponatong of the Royal Thai Army’s 41st Military Circle, who will pass on the request to the PLTO headquarters and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in Bangkok.

Jaturong Kaewkasi, the PLTO’s senior policy adviser, explained that the proposal for the new fares and the new look for the taxis is to encourage drivers to become metered-taxi drivers instead of fixed-rate “limousine” drivers preying on passengers at Phuket International Airport.

“Drivers can make more money carrying a fare back to the airport, rather than having to drive back empty, as is the case now,” he explained to the Phuket Gazette.

In presenting its case, the PLTO proposal pointed out that the fixed-rate fares currently listed as those to be charged by “green plate” limousines for one-way trips from Phuket Airport to destinations on the island were as follows:

Phuket City – 550 baht
Chalong – 650 baht
Patong – 800 baht
Karon – 1,000 baht
Laguna – 700 baht
Cape Panwa – 750 baht
Rawai – 1,000 baht

Under the proposed new taxi meter rates, the fares for the same one-way trips were estimated to be no more than:

Phuket City – 400 baht
Chalong – 470 baht
Patong – 500 baht
Karon – 600 baht
Laguna – 300 baht
Cape Panwa – 520 baht
Rawai – 620 baht

“The proposed meter rates are 50 baht for the first two kilometers, then 12 baht per kilometer for the next 15km, then 10 baht per kilometer thereafter,” Mr Jaturong explained.

“We have been trying to raise the standard meter rates for years. If this is approved, it would make it much easier for us to encourage drivers to operate metered taxis instead of becoming ‘limousine’ drivers.”

Comparatively, the current standard rates as set by the Land Transport Department are 50 baht per kilometer for the first two kilometers, seven baht per kilometer for the next 22km, then six baht per kilometer thereafter.

PLTO chief Terayout Prasertphol last year noted that the Land Transport Department had not increased the standard fares for Phuket drivers since 2003 (story here).

The proposal also included an explanation that from August 1 any drivers caught working illegally as taxi drivers faced the full weight of the law (story here).

According to Section 23 of the Land Transportation Act BE 2522, the penalty for working illegally as a taxi driver is a maximum fine of 100,000 baht, two years’ imprisonment, or both.

Accompanying the proposal were images of what Phuket’s new fleet of standard taxis would look like: white sedans with red-and-yellow stripes and stickers prominently showing the vehicle’s taxi registration number and the PLTO complaint hotline number, 1584.

However, while aiming to create a new fleet of standard taxis for Phuket, the PLTO is also aiming to keep the limousines in business, but as a higher quality taxi service, Mr Jaturong told the Gazette.

“We hope that many people want to make this happen, and that the NCPO agrees with us,” he said.

Mr Jaturong called for people to voice their support by posting comments online.

“At this stage, all we need is approval from the NCPO and support from the public,” he said. “If you want to support us, please post comments online, on news stories and on Facebook.”

“If there is a lot of support, we will record it and send it to the NCPO to support our request.”

— Saran Mitrarat

Phuket News

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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