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Phuket Meter Taxis Cruise for Pick-up Fares

Phuket Meter Taxis Cruise for Pick-up Fares

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
PHUKET: Metered taxis on Phuket are switching on their 'FREE' signs and ready to be hailed by customers in the island's streets.

The breakthrough became apparent when Phuketwan reporters noticed several metered cabs with their 'available' lights switched on along Phuket's west coast yesterday.

It's a bold move that demonstrates change is coming on Phuket.

The island's 110 meter taxi drivers now feel that they have sufficient support from authorities to turn on their signs and encourage customers to hail them.

That's the way it works in most places around the world. But Phuket's tuk-tuk and taxi monopolies have terrified the meter taxi drivers - until now.

''Yes, meter cabs are 'FREE' to hail and hire anywhere on Phuket,'' the head of the meter taxis, Suthin Jampatong, confirmed today.

''Before, the drivers were scared to turn on the lights. Now, we know we have widespread support.''

The Department of Special Investigation announced a widespread anti-corruption inquiry with the arrival of a special team on August 9.

Since then progress has been slow but steady.

Airports of Thailand has announced the end of the old taxi group system at Phuket International Airport and the adoption of standard taxi queuing.

Taxi groups that intimidate resorts and allow entry only to chosen vehicles are likely to be the next DSI target.

''We could not pick up customers before out of fear,'' Khun Suthin said. ''Now we will stop to pick up people anywhere on the island, provided it's not too close to any of the other taxi groups.''

Another encouraging sign comes with the postponement of this week's regular Tuesday DSI meeting with Tourism and Sport department officials, Phuket police and the island's administration.

Phuket Governor Maitree Intrusud is to join the postponed meeting for the first time on Friday - adding his weight to calls for an end to corruption across the island.

The governor's decision to chair the meeting comes in response to accusations by some of Phuket's leading tourism industry groups that the push for reform did not have the Phuket administration's total support.

His attendance and the metered taxis switching on their lights are signs of real progress.

The cabs have a light on the left-hand side of their windscreens that reads 'FREE' in the Thai language in red when it is turned on.

English-speaking passengers are advised to hail the cabs if they see the light, even if the message is in Thai.

Turning on the meter? That's another matter.

Phuketwan has always been told that the metered cab drivers started negotiating fares instead because Phuket's non-meter taxis were earning considerably more that way.

Now, with preference being shown by the airport managers and all Phuket authorities for metered taxis, the switch appears to be back to support for more meters.

However, Khun Suthin said today that it was often the fault of passengers in the past that meters had not been turned on.

''Some of the tourists come from countries where fares are negotiated and that's what they prefer,'' he said. ''Our drivers did it for their passengers, even though it breached the law.''

He said it was a good idea to push for more metered taxis on Phuket, but he had some reservations about converting all taxis to meters.

''Some people are happy with the limousine style ride,'' he said. ''Others prefer to hop into a minivan with other people.

''The metered taxis are in between. We don't want to change too much. But we are happy with the new pickup system. ''

The biggest complaint from tourists remains having to pay for the trip they don't make.

Phuket's non-meter taxis and tuk-tuks charge customers for the trip that the vehicles make back to their original base, empty.

Non-metered taxis are not yet permitted to make pickups across the island - a move that, at least in theory, should cut existing fares in half.

Comments

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If it is true, it will be a great victory for transportation in Phuket.
All Phuketians, Thais and foreigners alike, want a modern air-conditionned bus transport system and all metered-taxis and tuk-tuks equiped with meters which records the route and indicates the rate charged and the amount payable.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on October 29, 2013 12:05

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It's good that the meter taxis are being allowed to free range. However the fares have gone way too high.

Last week I made a 24 hour stopover in Phuket on route to work. The day time fare (Airport-Karon) that used be 700 baht has grown to 900. The return night time fare that used to be 800 is now 1,000. On the meter.

Note: That apart, there was still the same rabble to bypass at the airport to get to the meter taxis (at 11 a.m.). For me no problem - simply ignored. For a newcomer, quite intimidating.

Posted by Logic on October 29, 2013 12:12

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However, Khun Suthin said today that it was often the fault of passengers in the past that meters had not been turned on.

''Some of the tourists come from countries where fares are negotiated and that's what they prefer,'' he said. ''Our drivers did it for their passengers, even though it breached the law.''

This is a big fat lie.

Posted by phonus balonus on October 29, 2013 12:14

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I hope the word Metered in Phuket means that there is an actual meter in every car. This may sound strange but on my last trip to Pataya there were many many new cars that said Metered and looked the part but there were no actual Meters inside them.

Posted by mike on October 29, 2013 12:17

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So, the lights go on, but the meters do not?

Posted by phonus balonus on October 29, 2013 12:17

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The meter taxis in Pattaya are just for show. They will not use meters.

On the sole occasion I used one, I negotiated an unusually reasonable fare back to my house 8 Kms away. The female driver driver had an ulterior motive however. half way home she wanted to sexually assault me in a way that in my inebriated state I found difficult to refuse.

Being a level headed bloke I was able to deal with the trauma of it all, and for 250 b I thought the fare reasonable.

Still hardly a sustainable model for a public transport system tho.

Posted by Barry on October 29, 2013 13:32

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I have used the 'metered' taxis for the past 2 years but they simply refused to use their meters (maybe they did not work?). It was a fixed price as per the taxi counters inside the airport but cheaper. Now they actually use their meters, their cost has gone up & is approx 50% higher than Bangkok.

Posted by Logic on October 29, 2013 13:50

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'Some of the tourists come from countries where fares are negotiated and that's what they prefer,'' he said. ''Our drivers did it for their passengers, even though it breached the law.''

Yes, blame the victim!!!!! The fare from the airport to Patong is now almost the same in a meter cab USING THE METER as it is in a Limmo!!!

Posted by geoff on October 29, 2013 18:14

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I agree in principle with Whistle-Blower, however it is unworkable. Phuket roads are dangerous and grid locked during peek times. How would a public transport system guarantee a reliable timetable? Congestion problems in Europe were reduced with park-and-ride, congestion charges and higher road taxes. In Singapore owning and using a car is an expensive restricted privilege. Some lateral thinking may offer Phuket an income stream and sustainable solution.

Posted by gee on October 29, 2013 18:22

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It is not a lie when Khun Suthin observes that some visitors come from countries where fares are negotiated. India is one of those countries where negotiating the fare is commonplace. Many Middle Eastern countries' tourists also prefer to "negotiate" fares too. Even the Russians are quite skilled at negotiating a fare. It may come as a surprise for some, but a large number of visitors do not have a problem with the concept of negotiating a fare.

Posted by Ryan on October 29, 2013 20:16

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When you walk out of thr arrival hall in front of phuket fantasee counter they have a big board stand airpolt fares.
Its belong to the airport and stand airport-patong 650.
Maybey is time to write it in correct english and change the prices.

Posted by nero on October 29, 2013 23:05

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on returning to phuket last week i was pleasantly surprised to find that the meter taxis were switching on meters again.. i was less pleasantly surprised to find that the meter fare had increased on the last 'negotiated' fare (in actual fact the price i was told i would be paying) by more than a hundred baht. No real improvement still too expensive, and again no seat belt available

Posted by another steve on October 30, 2013 06:32

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Taxi meter to town (32 Km) Thb 600,- vs Limousine service Thb 650,-

Taxi meter from Phra pin Klao Bridge (Chaopraya)to Suvarnabhumi 36Km
Thb 290,-

Posted by Harald on October 30, 2013 13:19

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As I've said before, I suspect the metered taxis have altered the electronic speedometer signal entering the meter by simply doubling it. It's very easy to do.

Next time someone rides a metered taxi, pay attention to the DISTANCE traveled. This should be indicated on the meter, I believe in the lower left corner. It's likely to read around 85km from airport to Chalong, twice the real distance which again would explain why the fare is twice that of Bangkok.

There's no other way the meter can suddenly show double the fare unless the meter itself has been tampered with. This is unlikely because it's sealed and easily detected.

Posted by ThaiMike on October 30, 2013 14:30

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@ThaiMike: You mean they are cheating, and breaking the law, and making money out of it from unsuspecting travellers, and the police are doing nothing about it?

How can that possibly happen?

Posted by Buster on October 30, 2013 20:46

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- Buster

It's a mystery.

DSI in town, declaring Taxi scams their #1 target, Southern Police chief and the Tourism Minister visiting Phuket this month too and the Tourism Safety campaign in full swing it just simply cannot be true.

Mmh.

Posted by ThaiMike on October 30, 2013 23:21

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"You mean they are cheating, and breaking the law, and making money out of it from unsuspecting travellers, and the police are doing nothing about it?"
Yes, a fine conclusion based on the assumption of one member here that the meters are rigged. An assumption for which he has no proof, just his own suspicions.

Posted by stevenl on October 31, 2013 09:49


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