Tuk-tuk drivers reject revised fares
PHUKET TOWN: Representatives of the island’s tuk-tuk drivers today rejected the Phuket Transportation Office’s (PTO) revised scale of proposed fares, even though they would be the highest in the country. At today’s meeting, held at the PTO’s offices in Phuket Town, Transportation Chief Prasit Amarapal initially proposed a rate of 30 baht for the first two kilometers plus four baht for each kilometer thereafter – the same as the fares charged in Bangkok. On top of that, he said, the drivers would receive a 20% loading to compensate for the perceived higher cost of living in Phuket. Round-trip fares would be charged at twice the full one-way fare. This was the same rate as was originally proposed by the PTO, with the backing of Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi, in May, but rejected at the time by the tuk-tuk drivers. The drivers flatly refused to accept that structure, so K. Prasit revealed option number two: a rate of 50 baht for the first two kilometers plus 12 baht per kilometer thereafter – but with no cost-of-living loading. This came closer to what the drivers were looking for, but they argued that the flat-rate fare was too low on some routes because of the additional time and fuel spent in going up or down hills. They might accept, they said, if they could receive those fares plus a cost-of-living loading somewhere between 10% and 20%. K. Prasit said afterwards, “We think the drivers should accept the new rates; they’re higher than the fares charged in any other province in Thailand. “Phuket is not the only [tourist] destination anymore. There’s also Krabi, Phang Nga and others places, so [those in the transport business] should support Phuket’s tourism by charging reasonable prices.” Manit Sanguanporn, chairman of Kata-Karon Tuk-tuk Drivers Association, defended the drivers’ intransigence. He said that although he agreed with most of the revised fares, drivers could not charge fares based solely on distance, because of the extra cost in going up hills or carrying up to nine passengers. Today’s meeting follows instructions from Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi to the PTO to revise its initial proposed rates after tuk-tuk drivers refused to accept them on May 24. The tuk-tuk representatives and the PTO will meet again on Wednesday to negotiate further, after the PTO revises its proposed fares – yet again.
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