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Phuket's stalled  airport buses must roll to restore balance and sanity

Phuket Airport Bus Meeting Must Insist on Small Change From Tuk-Tuk and Taxi Drivers

Monday, June 10, 2013
Phuket News Analysis

PHUKET: The proposed bus network between Phuket International Airport and Phuket's western and southern beaches is back on the agenda tomorrow.

Talks are to take place at the Phuket Land Transport Office in Phuket City about plans for a public meeting to gauge the wishes and needs of Phuket's residents for a low cost, hop-on, hop-off bus service.

The meeting is expected to provide different views to those of the tuk-tuk drivers and taxi drivers in the Kata-Karon area who have already said they will blockade Phuket roads if the buses run.

As an international holiday destination with high-priced tuk-tuks and taxis or high-risk motorcycles as the only transport choices on offer for many, Phuket faces joining the real world or falling off the international tourism map.

What's disturbing in a social sense is that Phuket's young men appear too often to aspire to the easy life of a taxi driver charging extortionate fares rather than seek a university degree.

No other place in the world has elevated driving tuk-tuks and taxis to this kind of unreal status. Taxi drivers in other places are usually industrious, not, as they become on Phuket, relatively idle, yet growing rich.

No wonder that the number of tuk-tuk and taxi drivers on Phuket continues to expand, day by day. They join the village boys' clubs renowned for maintaining their monopoly over Phuket transport.

The fares are not just excessive but extortionate, outlandish and outrageous. This is because passengers are forced to pay for a journey they don't make - the journey the tuk-tuk or the taxi takes back to its original base.

Phuket's traditional village system permits taxis and tuk-tuks to deliver passengers to other parts of Phuket, but not to pick up passengers in those villages.

The result: a regular rip-off for which Phuket has become notorious worldwide. The island's attractions may keep people coming for a little longer, but Phuket's appeal is wearing thin in the face of the taxi-tuk-tuk scam and similar rip-offs.

Now the greed of the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers is growing and they are demanding monopoly commissions from retailers and tour operators and resorts. It's a grab that will eventually bust Phuket.

What's more alarming is the link between the taxi and tuk-tuk monopoly and the deaths and injuries inflicted on Phuket's own people on Phuket's roads.

Because Phuket people, like many tourists, also cannot afford the tuk-tuk and taxi fares, they are forced to ride on motorcycles. And so they die or are maimed, in large numbers.

The taxi and tuk-tuk monopoly will not let their own children ride in the relative safety of low cost, hop-on, hop-off buses.

A growing number of people on Phuket see the harm that this transport monopoly brings to the whole community and its future.

But a growing number of drivers also sign on for the easy money that being part of the tuk-tuk and taxi monopoly delivers.

A bus service would give Phuket's young people a chance to live a little longer without risking their lives on motorcycles.

It would also bring Phuket out of the age of village powerbrokers and into the modern international world, where people earn an honest living for a day's work, and where visitors are not seen solely as the target for easy rip-offs.

The good people of Phuket have not given up. The hope is that tomorrow's meeting will be another step towards enlightenment and 21st century reality for Phuket's misguided tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Good article, hopefully the buses will roll...

Posted by jimmy rawai on June 10, 2013 22:54


Ed, you dream if you think the Public Bus Service will put on the road!
The fact that " Phuket's young men appear too often to aspire to the easy life instead to get a degree for a better job ..." that says a lot about Thais!

Posted by George on June 10, 2013 23:07

Editor Comment:

No, that says a lot about human nature.


All so true... In Malmo/Sweden taxi cars run around the Clock, many times owned by Three persons who share the workload. You never see them idling arround somewhere, smoking cigarettes and chatting arround. The fare for a trip in the city is 59SEK. This is about 270 Baht. These people have many times the running cost compared to Phuket tuk tuks. Considering a taxi driver has to earn at least 25.000 sek (arround 105.000 baht) just to pay rent, food and clothing. That does't include the COSTs for the car, Insurance and more. A month, not a year...

Posted by Swede from Malmo on June 10, 2013 23:10


Well said Mr Ed lets hope the honest people of phuket win this fight

Posted by Scunner on June 11, 2013 00:31


It is like Klondike in the gold rush. Bether off on an island in the Indian Ocean. When the kids are done with their education I will leave.

Posted by Jens in Chalong on June 11, 2013 00:35


Good article, well written and "diplomatic"....
When will there be a public forum so both Thais and Expats can voice their concerns?? I have children also and a bus route to their school would be a god send.

Posted by Tom on June 11, 2013 00:36


Ed, human nature include intelligence, but over here, in Phuket, people show only a dull and asocial egoism!

Posted by George on June 11, 2013 07:07

Editor Comment:

One real sign of lack of intelligence, George, is blaming a problem on the people of a whole country when it is really only caused by a few of them. And no, I am not interested in your ''opinion'' about taxis and tuk-tuks.


I see, Ed. You are not interested in any opinions, you are interested only in yours!

Posted by George on June 11, 2013 07:47

Editor Comment:

No, we don't want ''opinions.'' We want factual information to add to readers' knowledge. So far, you've provided none.


Ed, re: your comment to George, can you please inform all of us when Phuket became a country, don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily agreeing on Georges comment re: (moderated).

Posted by Phuket_IOC on June 11, 2013 09:10

Editor Comment:

George's remark was about Thais. Thailand is a country. Your offensive remarks have been moderated and your opinion has been removed because it's of no value.


@Ed i dont agree with Geroge however you state "No, we don't want ''opinions.'' We want factual information to add to readers' knowledge. So far, you've provided none" but let you label this section comments.

Definition of a comment " a verbal or written remark expressing an opinion or reaction".

So which is it Ed - do you want opinions or just people agreeing with your point of view?

Posted by Ciaran on June 11, 2013 10:57

Editor Comment:

We want informed, intelligent comments based on fact, not ''if you ask me . . .'' fiction. Agreeing with me is not necessary. But you have to support what you say with logic and reason. ''Opinion'' from anonymous online commenters has no value without logic and reason.


Ed, that is very strange, because I, and your readers, can ONLY see Phuket. As for my "offensive" comment, I did not say all people only some, and yes, if someone thinks it is offensive, then they, including you, are so very sensitive dears. Oh or did you mean my use of the term "balls," which by the way, you are the ONLY one to complain, what a tiresome whinger you have become.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on June 11, 2013 11:26

Editor Comment:

The one, the only time-wasting whinger is you, Phuket_IOC. I have better things to do. Why don't you ask the US Ambassador whether she has the ''balls'' to do anything about protecting US citizens? I'm fairly confident she'd agree that ''balls'' and courage have no relationship to one another in the real world. They never have. But perhaps they always will in your world. You're a petty, sexist throwback to a forgotten era, with nothing to add in the 21st century.


@Ed and fair enough. Point taken. And to confirm i think you run a great news feed with stories not covered by many mainstream newspapers. You should be commended for your efforts.

Posted by Ciaran on June 11, 2013 11:49

Editor Comment:

Thank you. Providing a fast and accurate ''news feed'' is certainly our aim.


Good article, but this regular army of young man controlled by some very rich powerful people, will not be easy to beat.

Posted by Sherlock on June 11, 2013 13:22


To snyone with a ittle bit of common sense it must be clear that Phuket needs public tranportation that works. And almost noone can understand why the Government just doesn't put it on the roads but let some mobsters run the island. If there would be a real and honest interest from BKK's site in getting this enless problem and all his consequences solved, busses would run by tomorrow. But as there's just too much tea money involved, most probably we will write comments as long as the money flows...

Posted by Resident on June 11, 2013 14:10


Ed, if and when I meet the US Ambassador, I WILL ask her if she has the "balls" to ask the hard questions, simply because I have the "balls" to ask, unlike the obvious eugenic that your are. I don't think we have EVER seen you ask any HARD questions and why, well, because you don't have the "balls."

Posted by Phuket_IOC on June 11, 2013 15:43

Editor Comment:

What a particularly offensive and obnoxious character you are, Phuket_IOC.


Good article, but don't understand why this problem can't be solved. Why don't the goverment not reduce the licens to drive taxi and tuk-tuk with 75 %, and only one way payment. Then there will be a lot more trips for the driver, and mayby they will even drive in the nighttime too.

Posted by Hans on June 12, 2013 18:45


In most countries taxi drivers are at the lower end of the pay scale and often the job you take to fund studies or a second job just to pay the bills.

If drivers charge excessive amounts and people still use the service, why would you not do everything in your power to maintain your what you have.If you dont like the cost of something, you always have the choice of not buying it or in this case using the service.

Still much cheaper than a taxi in Sydney!

Posted by Manowar on June 12, 2013 20:23

Editor Comment:

But not if the cost of living is taken into account. The average Sydneysider can still afford a taxi. The average Phuket person cannot.

Thursday June 30, 2022
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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