Phuket’s taxi turf war: App-hailing shakes up local cooperatives

Photo courtesy of The Phuket News

The rise in popularity of taxi apps and cheaper fares threatens the long-standing dominance of local taxi cooperatives at key tourist locations in Phuket. Officials convened with representatives of these groups yesterday to address the emerging issues.

The discussion took place at the Phuket Provincial Ombudsman’s Office and was led by Phuket Vice Governor Anupap Rodkhwan Yodrambam.

One contentious issue was the Ratsada VIP Coral Tour group which operates from Ratsada Pier. Despite a year-old agreement that taxi services would be managed by the Ratsada Pier authority, questions remain about whether taxi co-op drivers at Ratsada Pier are still operating under the same misunderstanding that led to an incident where a co-op driver stopped a legal taxi app driver and forced four tourists to use a co-op taxi.

As a resolution, the Ratsada Pier will now regulate parking, with signs showing where general taxis and app taxis can serve passengers.

The Phuket Provincial Police and officials from the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) will enforce the arrangement and crackdown on all illegal taxis at the pier.

The Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO) will provide materials and equipment for this, with the results reported to the Phuket Provincial Office and the Governor of Phuket Province.

Metered taxi driver conundrum

The meeting also addressed complaints by metered taxi drivers who are unable to compete with the fares charged by taxi app drivers. These drivers filed a formal complaint about their situation in June.

The green plate taxi drivers working for the Phuket Business Car Service Cooperative Limited, who previously had exclusive rights to serve passengers at Phuket International Airport, had their situation discussed too.

Since Grab was allowed to pick up passengers at the airport from September 1, these drivers filed a formal complaint about loss of income. The co-operatives that continue to serve the airport are currently operating under temporary four-month extensions that expire at the end of October.

Another significant outcome of the meeting is the creation of a database by the PLTO to register which taxis are used to provide which taxi app services. This data will help develop public transport routes.

The information must be requested from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. The database, as described, will associate the taxi app services provided with the actual taxis used, not the driver.

Tune in to the latest episode of the Good Morning Thailand Talk Show discussing Phuket’s ongoing efforts to combat illegal taxi operations HERE.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.