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Patong's new taxi federation meets last night, with a police colonel and Phuketwan

Patong Tuk-Tuk Fares: 'Negotiate' the New Code

Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuk-Tuk Fares Schedule Photo Album Above

PHUKET'S most powerful group of tuk-tuk, taxi, motorcycle and vehicle-for-rent operators decided yesterday to set new maximum fares - but to also allow totally free negotiations of fares downwards.

The decision represents the first official rise in the fares that the new Patong Taxi Federation says have officially been in place since being approved by the Transport Department on December 13, 2000 - almost 10 years ago.

The federation's president, Preechavude Keesin, told Phuketwan that increased costs justified the review of the existing fares. But he does recognise the need to make the island's private transport more competitive.

''Patong is a free trade area,'' he said. ''Thais and expats come here to run businesses, as long as they are competitive and ethical. Now Patong is different, and we understand that Phuket is in competition with other holiday destinations around the world.

''The number of vehicles is not as important as the need to be competitive. It's always going to be about demand and supply.''

The new maximum fares are effective immediately.

A trip from Jungceylon, - the starting place for all the new calculations - to Tesco or Big C supermarket in Phuket City costs a maximum of 400 baht one-way. A trip from Jungceylon to Karon beach costs 300 baht one-way, max. A ride from Patong to the airport costs 800 baht one way, or 1500 baht for a round trip. The trip to Phuket Town costs 500 baht one-way, 900 baht return.

The federation was set up four months ago, Khun Preechavude said, to improve the quality standards within the industry.

There was certainly a host of neat mauve uniform shirts at yesterday evening's meeting in Patong of about 13 leaders of the different elements that make up the federation.

What was decided at the two-hour meeting will be conveyed by letter to all members of the federation, who will have to abide by the new ''negotiable charter'' of maximum fares.

Khun Preechavude said he had no comment about buses or other alternative forms on transport. His aim is to give the federation a more modern approach to service - and economics.

''Customers will be able to discuss the fare they wish to pay and reach an agreement with drivers,'' he said. Phuketwan has been told by tourists that fares in Patong that cost 200 baht a year ago can now be negotiated down to 150 baht.

In practical terms, what seems a reasonable price to transport five people from the north end of Patong to the south end becomes less reasonable for a couple or a single traveller, which is probably where the motorcycle-taxi would present a better alternative . . . as long as there are helmets to go around.

As for taxi-tuk-tuk meters, Khun Preechavude repeated that the federation accepted the idea of meters. But he said illegal taxis would continue to pose a problem and prevent the broad introduction of meters.

''Ninety percent of Phuket's cabs are illegal 'black' taxis,'' he said. ''Until the illegal taxis are controlled, the industry won't be efficiently run.

''Just about every person who loses their job in a resort jumps into a car and tries to earn money as a taxi to get by.''

Khun Preechavude said it was unfair to use the term ''mafia'' about Patong drivers because it was a ''free trade'' area where people can choose how to travel and at what cost. Other parts of the island were not so democratic, he said.

Parking disputes arising from rental vehicles and taxis controlling the public spaces along Patong's beachfront were also discussed.

Colonel Jakkawat Boontaveekulsawat, of Kathu police station, told the meeting that the federation would be given a little more time to negotiate a settlement. Most of the spaces are being taken by 'black' taxis, the meeting heard.

An overhaul of the existing one-way road system in Patong by the local authorities is continuing, Khun Preechavude said. Once all the planning for the major roads around Patong is in place, parking for tuk-tuks and taxis throughout the whole of Patong will also be restructured.

Phuketwan was only news organisation with a reporter at last night's meeting.

Phuketwan COMMENT

The federation appears to be doing its best from within the existing industry to produce an economically-sound model for Patong's private transport. More reforms are needed to the traditional village-based concepts that have failed to meet 21st century needs. The entire island of Phuket still requires an effective, low-cost public transport system.
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With such fares, Phuket gets closer to a place without any tourists. Let us hope that the Government does not allow such robbery.

Posted by Dirk Naumann on July 15, 2010 12:45

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From looking at your attached images it would appear that the lowest fare for a Tuk-tuk journey on Phuket is Bt250. I also notice that the way the sheet has been formatted it gives the impression that these are official rates, rather than maximum rates.

So every time I want to go somewhere on Phuket it's going to cost me $8 or more. Thanks, but I'll go to Indonesia where the public transport rates are considerably more realistic.

Been following this matter for a while now and tired of the greedy attitude of Phuket tuk-tuk drivers. It's about time the drivers learned of the existence of the internet. There is no reason for tuk-tuks to be so expensive on Phuket - it's not like fuel was carried by boat to a fare offshore island - except greed.

I'll spend my money in Indonesia where the locals aren't quite as gung-ho about ripping off visitors.

Keep going Phuket, you're outdated views are pricing yourself out of existence and there are plenty of nicer places int he world for people to go. This is just pure arrogance.

Posted by Graham on July 15, 2010 14:27

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I wouldn't take a tuk tuk if it was the last option available...These guys are way out of line and doing a very good job at contributing to pricing Phuket right out of the competitive tourist market.

Posted by sky on July 15, 2010 15:02

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Wow these prices are still too high... the island needs a new system, period.

350 max to go from jungceylon to kathu? That's just over the hill and takes 10 minutes minimum, or 20 minutes if going to further in kathu.

For a 20 minute ride in a real taxi car in Bangkok going at a high speed you can expect to pay about 150 baht! In that you get a/c and a real, safer car....

Ethical business in Patong? wow... send me to somewhere with less insanity, please.

Posted by j on July 15, 2010 15:24

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"A ride from Patong to the airport costs 800 baht one way".

While these absurdly high prices are being quoted is it any wonder that there are so many "black taxis" around.

The door may now be open for an even greater influx of "black taxis" making it more difficult for the poor tuk-tuk drivers to try and attract customers.

Posted by Whispering Jack on July 15, 2010 15:24

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Phuketwan should seek an official answer from the federation's president, Preechavude Keesin, whether he accepts fair competition from public transport, with air-conditioned buses between all beaches and places around Phuket.
It is a public transport system we need for Phuket, from early morning until late at night.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on July 15, 2010 16:58

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Interesting: A trip to Wat Chalong is 500 Baht even though it is nearer than Phuket Zoo (450). I guess the Wat is not paying commission...

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on July 15, 2010 17:24

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This the furthest thing from a free market i've ever seen. Greed will kill tourism in Phuket. Real wages in Phuket are similar to Bangkok. Locals get along just fine. Far more tourists visit Bangkok than Phuket, so I don't see any justice for the price fixing. Pattaya doesn't have these problems. A free market with real competition is the only solution...

Posted by Mike. Hunt on July 15, 2010 18:10

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I do not understand why a Tuk-Tuk should be so much more expensive than other vehicles to drive in Thailand. What can be done is to start some kind of public transport taxi system.

Posted by Jan on July 15, 2010 19:28

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How about the plan to let drivers from other districts take people back?

With their "now can be negotiated clause" . . . Was this not possible before?

So tired of this story.......

Posted by VFaye on July 15, 2010 19:49

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well..looks like the tuks tuks get their way..again. They say "free trade & freedom to choose," yeah right...when there are only tuk-tuks plying the roads, there's not much choice.

Posted by tom on July 15, 2010 19:58

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No mention of fares within Patong though (other than the Phuketwan comment). Interesting that I can get an aircon meter taxi for B450 to the airport but an open tuk tuk is nearly double the cost. Hopefully these prices will be promulgated to the punters as well so they are aware of what they should be paying, to avoid future 'misunderstandings'.

Posted by Mister ree on July 15, 2010 20:15

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That is pure cynicism. Shame on the tuk-tuk owners, who take the bar/hotel owners, the tourist industry somehow hostage and get away with it.

Posted by Lena on July 15, 2010 20:20

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The prices are still to high.Its still too high for locals and tourists. Phuket still needs a public transportation system the locals and tourist can use. I hope the government does the right thing for all of Phuket and not a small minority of tuk tuk drivers.

Posted by James on July 15, 2010 20:35

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90% of taxis are 'black taxis'. Where does that statistic come from. I only wish they were 100%. No thanks Mr. Tuk Tuk, I'll keep taking my friends 'black taxis' and give them the money rather than feed the greed. Must be nice to sit with your buddies all day making fun of tourists then extort them with no consequences...what a job.

Posted by Jon on July 15, 2010 22:18

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Nothing has changed the Tuk Tuks are still ripping people off.

Posted by Brian on July 15, 2010 22:59

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These new fares are just ridiculous and shows that the tuk-tuk groups have no intention to do their part improving Phuket as a destination for tourists. Prices are higher than a lot of western countries comparing distance/time, and you are still placed in a tuk-tuk with poor safety.
Next time to Thailand Phuket is no longer my destination for sure. Thais always talking about respect, but this is no respect for us tourists.
See you again when you get a decent transportation system...

Posted by TD on July 15, 2010 23:55

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If only the local Thai press would carry this story maybe Bangkok would do something. The Phuket cartel of "influential people" ensure no negative news makes it to the capital.

Posted by petr on July 16, 2010 08:11

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Still the same rip-offs and a different day. My guests never use them.

Posted by Graham on July 16, 2010 09:26

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Don't use them. Most of the tourist knows about this, so those who can should rent a small bike, enough to travel around the island or going to the beach, or rent a car when, anyway it will always cost less.

Posted by Jean-Paul Patrick on July 16, 2010 09:44

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Example fare:

Patong - Laem Phromthep 1300 Baht return

Car hire (Toyota Vios):

1300 Baht for whole day... only 800 baht for Suzuki jeep.

(rental rate Sutin Car rent website)

Posted by Jamie on July 16, 2010 10:39

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I have to say, I read of the proceedings with a growing sense of disbelief. In every other country in the world, the government or municipal authorities *set* the rates. There is no 'negotiation'. These are the rates. Conform to them or lose your license and possibly your vehicle.

Sorry if the federations don't like the M word. Perhaps 'cartel' might be more acceptable. Hell, we all knew that this was going to happen. The fares are still exhorbitant - and the problem has been exacerbated.

It will do precisely nothing to address the perceptions and complaints of tourists. Anglophone travellers are wised up and increasingly going elsewhere, and our friends in the tuk tuks will find that the growing Asian market is a lot less likely to oblige them by paying through the nose for short journeys.

But let that be the end of it. There's no point negotiating further, in fact it's a deliberate distraction on the part of the feds. These are the rates. Fine. Let's move on to an island-wide public transport system. Quickly, intelligently and comprehensively.

Free trade is only free trade if their are real options. Let's see the Phuket authorities provide some.

Posted by Doug on July 16, 2010 21:29

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@Doug's comment is one of the most clear-headed expositions I've ever read on this much-discussed topic.

Right. Freaking. On.

Posted by D on July 16, 2010 22:35

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Phuket, you are digging your own grave. Please understand, that you don't solve the-lack-of-customers problem by rising prices. The golf courses on Phuket should learn the lesson, too.
Good luck to the future of Phuket.

Posted by Niels Erik Clausen on July 17, 2010 09:42

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Currently I am in Bangkok and just did a taxi ride from Don Muang to Ramkamhaeng 90 which took me 1 hour. The taxi was 191 baht and i had to pay 50 baht extra from being picked up from the airport. The taxi driver was polite, chatty and actually a funny guy.

So that cost me 241 baht all in and because the guy was so nice i gave a 59 baht tip to round it to 300.

What happened to the fares that were proposed before? The prices that are set here, are the prices everyone pays now, they aren't cheaper or anything. Just another facade...

Posted by Tbs on July 17, 2010 19:43

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(Moderated)

Posted by noddy on July 24, 2010 09:19

Editor Comment:

Noddy,
Phuketwan would be happy to give you an introduction to the mayor and his son. Then you can make all the foolish and fanciful comments you like. If your comment is not something you'd be prepared to say to their faces, then consider it something we wouldn't publish. We're not interested in scuttlebutt and rumors.

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Just took at Taxi yesterday every early morning from Mahidol University (Nakhon Pathom) Province to the airport. The distance is 72 KM using the Kanchanaphisek Road. Fare was 510 Baht for three people.
Two weeks ago at Phuket Airport wanted to take a Taxi-Meter to Kamala. Price quoted = 400 Baht.
After telling them that I should write to the newspapers that they charge a flat rate of Baht 400.- the lady at the counter changed her mind and said --- "I mean to say it might be about 400 Baht"
I too prefer the "black-taxis" for the following reasons.

Most speak English, mostly clean and good cars, mostly cheaper than Tax-Meters and surely cheaper than Tuk-tuks, surely safer and surely more comfortable with a air-con.

Posted by KRR on July 29, 2010 18:41


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Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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