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Tuk-tuks in Karon: a public meeting will gauge opposition to Phuket buses

Airport Buses Face Taxi, Tuk-Tuk Test

Tuesday, April 2, 2013
PHUKET: A public meeting next week is expected to sound out whether Phuket's new public buses face serious opposition from tuk-tuk and taxi drivers or will be able to start running soon.

Residents are invited to attend the meeting, called by Kata-Karon Mayor, Tawee Tongcham, for the council offices at Kata beach at 10am on April 11.

Proceedings will be in the Thai language but some interested expats are expected to attend.

And tomorrow, Phuket journalists will be invited to take a ride on one of the new buses intended to service the route between Phuket International Airport and Kata-Karon.

Thursday week's public meeting is likely to be followed by more talks as Phuket officials gauge whether there's a level of antagonism towards the much-needed bus service.

For decades, Phuket's tuk-tuk and taxi drivers have had a virtual monopoly on transport between Phuket's airport and the island's holiday west coast.

Phuket Land Transport Office Director Terayoot Prasertphol has pushed ahead with the important Phuket bus project to the point where all that's needed in a go-ahead from Phuket Provincial Hall.

Approval has been delayed to see whether residents - including the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers - understand the need for the bus service and approve of its introduction.

Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers are also likely to be affected in Patong and other points where people can hop on or off the buses. More meetings are likely.

It has been speculated that many arriving and departing tourists will prefer to catch a tuk-tuk or a taxi directly from the airport to their accommodation or vice versa. But some are bound to prefer the low-cost buses.

Residents are likely to take advantage of a safer form of travel on some short trips, reducing the addiction to dangerous and sometimes deadly motorcycles as the transport of choice on Phuket.

Other bus routes around Phuket are likely to be considered if the first innovative Phuket airport route proves to be a popular success.

Tomorrow, journalists are expected to be invited to ride on a new bus from Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City to Karon and back as part of Phuket Governor Maitree Intusut's regular ''meet the media'' session.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


How ridiculous - of course the tuk tuk and taxi drivers are going to 'seriously oppose' the bus service. Either implement it for the good of the tourism industry or ditch it but don't waste your time trying to negotiate.

Posted by Damien on April 2, 2013 10:08

Editor Comment:

How odd it is that seemingly intelligent people prefer confrontation to negotiation. As residents of Phuket, the drivers are as entitled as everyone else to have their say, especially as they are more affected than most.


They are ripping off, threatening, even beating people and you still pretend they have their say. This have to stop.

Posted by jean-paul patrick on April 2, 2013 10:42

Editor Comment:

Who is ''They,'' jean-pauk patrick? You don't seem to understand the basics of democracy, where even people you disagree with are entitled to an opinion. I guess you will make your accusations in person, at the meeting?


Just a very weak Government. Why try to negotiate with uneducated Tuk Tuk Drivers. Just implement the service. Most of the Airports in the world offer a Bus service from the Airport to Major places. Why not Phuket ?

Posted by Mj on April 2, 2013 10:58

Editor Comment:

If you need to ask that question, Mj, perhaps you need to do a bit more research. Informing people about changes before they happen is standard procedure everywhere, except in dictatorships. Since when has it been obligatory to have an education before you can hold an opinion? Your ''education'' seems sadly incomplete.


Thank you for informing us where and when the meeting will take place. I will be attending, hoping to have a chance to voice my opinion and live to tell.

I urge every expat, fluent in Thai or not, to attend to show that enough is enough.

Posted by Stephen on April 2, 2013 11:04


Dear Ed, I unfortunately left Phuket after so many years to Bangkok for professional reason, so I will alas not join this meeting. I sincerely hope this project will succeed, it will be beneficial for tourists and locals alike, it will also attenuate a bit the bad reputation Phuket have internationally because of those greedy taxis & tuk tuks. The basics of democracy can not be implemented with criminals, even if it doesn't concern all of them, but "they" are all ripping off people since decades, it's a fact.

Posted by jean-paul patrick on April 2, 2013 11:16

Editor Comment:

We know some honest and quite normal tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, jean-paul patrick. To accuse large groups of hundreds of people of all being ''criminals'' shows a lack of intelligent thought. Perhaps you're a victim of paranoia, or propaganda? No point in wildly distorting the facts, especially from so far away, in Bangkok. Do you have something constructive to say, or not? It appears not.


Editor, You do not even realize that the negotiations has been going on for 10 years +.
Phuket is not controled by the Government. The Mafia is controling the whole island related to transportation issues.

Posted by Mj on April 2, 2013 11:24

Editor Comment:

People who believe in ''mafia'' on Phuket - especially with a capital M - have vivid imaginations, encouraged by years of misuse of the word. The Mafia is ''a hierarchically structured secret organization allegedly engaged in smuggling, racketeering, trafficking in narcotics, and other criminal activities in the U.S., Italy, and elsewhere.''

What we have on Phuket when it comes to transport is not a ''Mafia.'' It's a monopoly. Can we get that straight, please?


Unfortunately, the 'good' tuk-tuk and taxi drivers work for a mafia. They may well be very nice people earning a living, but they do not have a say. Please correct me if I am wrong, most of the taxi mafia have brothers or cousins on the local councils? This usually enables them to succeed in anything they want. I would also like to point out that the 800baht cost of a trip from Surin to Kata at night is very reasonable. However, airport trips are a rip-off.

Posted by Norman on April 2, 2013 11:39

Editor Comment:

As residents, it would be no surprise to me if some tuk-tuk and taxi drivers had friends or relatives on local councils. So what? The issue is about a bus route, for the common good of Phuket. It's a monopoly, Norman. The use of the word ''mafia'' is your imagination working overtime.
''Reasonable'' fares will only be achieved when travellers no longer have to pay for the return trip that they don't make. Surin to Kata for 400 baht would be ''reasonable.'' But that has nothing to do with buses, so i don't know why you mention it.

gravatar starting to think you have a tuk tuk business on the side - you seem very adamant in defending the taxi and tuk tuk drivers.

Posted by Ciaran on April 2, 2013 12:00

Editor Comment:

I'm not ''defending'' the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers. I am saying they have a right, along with all other residents, to have their opinions heard. If you don't understand the difference, Ciaran, it's no wonder the real issues are lost on expats who can't see past their own anger and hate.


@Ed, you raise the democracy issues, I put it to you, practise what you preach. There are MANY times you do NOT allow others opinion to be post, simply because they disagree with YOU. Granted, there are times you do allow them to be posted but them you have to add you snide remarks.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on April 2, 2013 13:07

Editor Comment:

People who have constructive comments to add will always be welcome, Phuket IOC, here and probably at the public meeting. Most people can tell the difference between anonymous online babble and putting their hand up to speak in real life. Carpers and harpers waste time in both worlds.


No, it??s not "standard procedure" anywhere in the world to ask taxidrivers or other interested parties how they feel about opening a bus line from the airport. In fact, it is unheard of, even in Thailand. No taxi drivers were asked their opinion about buses from Suvarnabhumi, or the train from Suvarnabhumi i.e.
So, Ed, why do you pretend that this is normal procedure?
Only in Phuket...
And it might not be a mafia, but it sure is a monopoly upheld with both force and political connections.

Posted by Remarkable on April 2, 2013 13:48

Editor Comment:

You made a similar comment about a week ago, Remarkable, and you were as wrong then as you are now. To avoid wasting my time, I will cut and paste the same answer:

The public meetings will most likely be for all who wish to attend and that goes especially for residents who will be affected by the change. It may surprise you to learn, Remarkable, that tuk-tuk drivers are residents, and they will be affected by the change. I'll let you keep searching for more precise precedents. But who cares?


I believe that the tuk tuk and taxi operation is a mafia-type of business, and not a monopoly. My wife's brother used to be a taxi ( limousine ) driver for the airport, and because he is not from phuket he always had a gun in the car for protection. There is a clear reason he stopped this job, and to use his words, it was because of warnings from the local MAFIA. So if the thai use the word mafia, and your readers here do the same, why would you say otherwise? I hope you will put this comment up.

Posted by Charles on April 2, 2013 13:57

Editor Comment:

By carrying a gun, your wife's brother demonstrated his paranoia and his contempt for the law. By inappropriately using the word ''mafia,'' you show your contempt for the English language. It's called a monopoly. Those who are not members are not welcome. That's a MONOPOLY. You'd have a much better case for ''mafia'' . . . if your wife's brother hadn't survived.


@ Ed : I mentioned that those were my brother in law's words and you say : By inappropriately using the word ''mafia,'' you show your contempt for the English language. Maybe you should read the comment completely before getting on your horse. It's true that my English is not perfect, but does that forbid me to read and comment on articles?

Posted by Charles on April 2, 2013 14:48

Editor Comment:

Your English is fine, Charles, but I am not sure why the word MAFIA needs capital letters. It's misused by locals and expats alike.


Am I the only one thinking that they might have more public participation at these meetings if they had public buses running for people to be able to get to them?

Posted by Relox on April 2, 2013 15:22


@Ed. 'Contempt for the law'. Please tell me where on this island 'the law' is enforced?

Posted by Norman on April 2, 2013 15:40

Editor Comment:

Everywhere that people obey the law, no enforcement is needed. Those who break it are the problem, Norman.


ED, look at this definition,, also a quick search on the internet throws up American Mafia, Sicilian Mafia, Mexican Mafia, so why not a taxi/tuk tuk Mafia. Common usage, like many modern day words, makes it acceptable. Would you accept cartel?

Posted by Phuket_IOC on April 2, 2013 15:45

Editor Comment:

A tuk-tuk cartel?


Unbelievable that you are defending the tuk-tuk cartel. Did you just arrive on the island? (moderated)
p.s. I doubt you will even post my comment or if you do it will be edited beyond recognition. Kind of makes me wonder why you even have a comment section.

Posted by BigP on April 2, 2013 15:53

Editor Comment:

Perhaps you can't read type, or my lips, BigP. I am not defending the ''tuk-tuk cartel,'' simply making the obvious point that all residents have a right to a say in important decisions that affect their futures. We have a comment section for people who have something of value to add. Generalisations and mindless exaggerations have no value.


I think that the only way that the tuk-tuk drivers will agree to the airport bus service is if they do not allow passengers to board these busses to make the journey from Patong to Karon/Kata and vice versa.
There was mention several Months ago about an Airport to Rawai route , but nothing recently , I would have thought that , that route would have been less contentious and could have been rolled out without having to ask for the blessing of the tuk-tuk monopoly

Posted by Tom on April 2, 2013 16:05

Editor Comment:

All bus routes from the airport would be controversial . Others are likely to open once this one is approved.


Everyone has a right to voice their opinion, even those we may strongly disagree with.

I don't see the Ed defending anything but the right to free speech and opinion.

The travesty is that the "voice" of a very small and selfish group carries a lot further than that of a populace of several hundred thousand.

I wonder if any Phuket authorities thought of asking what the assumingly largest group of customers for this bus service, the TOURISTS, think ?

There should be a public hearing conducted in English and Thai to gauge the opinions of this group.

I'll give it a shot with my Thai language abilities but I'm already worried about where to park my car and how to get home safely afterwards.

Oddly enough I don't fancy taking a tuk-tuk back home after that meeting.

Posted by Stephen on April 2, 2013 16:25


Ed, If everyone calls it a mafia then it is a mafia. I see one dictionary already shows mafia as meaning "any influential clique" (Webster) and another says "any group considered to resemble the Mafia" (Collins). Yes they can be called mafia. Please stop splitting hairs.

Posted by chill on April 2, 2013 16:40

Editor Comment:

The word ''mafia'' should be reserved for criminal organisations. To preserve proper use of the language - and to prevent misuse,exaggeration and lies - is worthwhile.


The poster, Remarkable, is absolutely correct. There is no other country in the world that has public meetings about bus routes.

You have public meetings about property developments, environmental issues, the building of roads and many other things. But not bus routes. Because that would be ridiculous. Anyone who can't see how ridiculous that would be, well, I can't help you there.

A bus route is a public service, in many countries part of the DNA of a civilized society. The notion that private operators (with permits gained from a widely-criticized and corrupt system) who benefit from the lack of such a service have a say in the service every other country recognizes is for the wider benefit of the area is a notion peculiar - and I mean highly peculiar - to Phuket.

Posted by Doug on April 2, 2013 16:53

Editor Comment:

You have public meetings whenever the best interests of the local community demand it. To push the bus route through without consultation and public discussion would be the action of fools. I think most people, apart from you and Remarkable, can plainly see that. I've got no time to respond further to this blind-alley theme. You should also note, Doug, that cynicism has no value. It seems you will only be content if nothing ever changes.


I'm encouraged. Inviting the media to take a trip in one of the new buses will make it that much harder to scrap the proposal at a later date.

The taxi/tuk-tuk fraternity is bound to object, but since most modern countries have a public transport system, there's no reason why Phuket should be any different and they just have to learn to accept that.

Other forms of transport can still compete by offering a private service and provided rates are realistic, there's no reason why the two forms shouldn't coexist.

Posted by Xircal on April 2, 2013 16:54


Of course I was right. Edited my comment beyond recognition. Let me are british, alcoholic, and an ex-english teacher. I know I can't be too far off. Don't take this the wrong way, I really do enjoy and value your online newspaper. But you are starting to sound like your personality disorder is getting out of control. I'd bet it is the booze. Take it easy and take better care of yourself. We need your news source as it is by far the best one on the island:)

Posted by BigP on April 2, 2013 17:04

Editor Comment:

If you are determined to continue your guesswork, you are wasting your time and mine, BigP.


In the best interest of the future of Phuket all sides need representation. I sure hope a group of expats show their support for the best interest of tourists and the abuse that is often handed out by some in this group. I think the minutes should also reflect where the person speaking comes from and how long they have lived in Phuket. While everyone has a voice I think the future of Phuket needs to be determined by those that live here permanently and not those that are just here to make a quick baht with no real concern for anyones future but their own.

Posted by Jon on April 2, 2013 17:52


Too much verbal diarrhoea from you over this issue. I know it's your bat and your ball and you can say what you like and cut what you don't like. Your "mafia-word" nitpicking is tedious. These people have a very bad reputation over the years. Do you really think that fares will go down if tomorrow or another day, the good fairy allows taxis to roam freely so that you don't have to pay for your oft-repeated return trip? Dream on.

Posted by Bertie on April 2, 2013 18:08

Editor Comment:

Better to have dreams than simply be a knocker who can't imagine anything ever improving. How sad your life must be. That nothingness won't change whether you are Arthur, as you were in your first comment, or Matha (alias Bertie) in your second. If you must offer mindless criticism, please try to be original. Lame cliches are disturbing.


it is my understanding that in a democracy people elect representatives who then implement and enforce laws. this means that once the representatives have been elected they can implement and enforce the laws basically without negotiating and requesting approval of the people again. if the people are unhappy with their representatives or actions they can elect new representatives who may then change existing laws or implement and enforce new ones. if you apply the aforementioned to this case, why negotiating implementation of a bus line with local taxi drivers? on what legal grounds do the taxi drivers base their right to negotiate on or participate in the implementation of the new airport bus? can anybody explain this to me please?

Posted by Giggle on April 2, 2013 18:08

Editor Comment:

Local issues are discussed everywhere by local communities as they arise, Giggle. This is a change proposed by non-elected administrators, hence the need for public meetings. You may choose to vote once and let politicians decide everything for you. Most people would prefer to be consulted.


Ed, readers are not pro tuk tuks but I do believe in democracy. How can Thailand be democratic when foreigners pay to enter areas like turtle farms, aquariums, waterfalls etc etc etc etc etc etc, Thais enter for free how can that be a democracy (moderated)

Posted by How Much Can You Pay on April 2, 2013 18:09

Editor Comment:

You've lost the plot, How Much Can You Pay. Bus services charge one fare for everybody, regardless of background. Stay on-topic or don't bother commenting.


Can we have Mr M back as the editor. This current editor whose style is the same regarding any objective comments raised by her sorry this papers readers against all things tuk-tuk even the very people her own paper has used the Mafia word to describe ,see article wed ist july 2009 Phuket tuk-tuk boss:aren't you afraid of me?.
What editor comments negatively on 21 of the 26 comment in her sorry this papers comments section , just reinstate your specific editorial policy of last year those who agree with you get to post and going by this article that would be 0 out of 26,come back Mr M for a far more objective editorial analysis

Posted by Billy on April 3, 2013 04:50


Ed, not being critical at all, but clearly other readers and I have noticed a change in tack recently from you with regards to this issue. It is your website so that is entirely your discretion.

I assume you are following the "art of war" strategy of keeping friends close, and enemies closer still. An interesting choice as being confrontational with Thais does not work and this should be well known to your readers.

We all know that it is highly unusual for a public consultation as to whether to introduce public transport. Public transport is used globally as a way of improving society as a whole, and Phuket should be no exception to this.

I trust your new strategy works and can assist in the swift deployment of a proper public transport network across the island, reducing road deaths by taking people off motorbikes, reducing congestion, reducing pollution and reducing costs for all those in Phuket - locals and tourists alike

Posted by Change of tack? on April 3, 2013 12:46

Editor Comment:

Whatever change of tack you've noticed, Change of Tack? is purely imaginary. We don't have friends or enemies. We don't employ an old strategy or a new strategy. We consistently seek improvements without violence in language or deed, by negotiation, not confrontation. Public consultations on Phuket are a regular occurrence.


Dear Tuk Tuk editor (or should I say lawyer),
First you seem to say that most people who don't like tuk tuks are expats.
I can tell you that I AM THAI and I still hate them.
-Because they rip off tourists. You might say I don't have any official evidence but when the majority of toursits say it, you still need proof?
-Because of their bad attitude (I think that's not the first time you hear that)
-Because of their reckless driving. Trying to send the passengers as fast as they can so they don't lose their queue. You can see that in the record of the traffic camera.
-Parking disorder: why are they allowed to park where other vehicles can't?
They are blocking the entrance of most of the Soi.
As a democracy, we agree that they should be able to discuss.
But what about all of the rules Tuk Tuks are breaking?
What about all the complaints we receive from tourists about them?
I would suggest that the government issues a Law that would allow tourist to take the name and ID numnber of any tuk tuk diver that is being rude or is cheating them and report it to local authorities. Tuk Tuk should be penalised for that.
Saying that, I still don't understand why you are defending Tuk Tuks.
Who do you think are are helping the economy of Phuket? Tourists or Tuk Tuk?

Posted by Somchai on April 3, 2013 13:20

Editor Comment:

We don't ''seem to say'' anything, Somchai. And hatred is your problem, and yours alone. Good luck with it.


Good luck to them! I hope the service is a success and hopefully thereafter more routes will begin!

Posted by Matt on April 3, 2013 18:24


@ K. Somchai

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Please keep writing here in the future and if possible, encourage more of your Thai friends to do the same.

I would love to read more input from Thai people from all walks of life.

I agree with all the points you make about Tuk-Tuks and it's not only tourists they cheat. Some of my Thai friends have been cheated too.

Bt 400 for a 800m trip to the post office in Kata for example.

You as a Thai have one significant advantage over us foreigners - you have a vote. You can also attend meetings and speak intelligently in Thai and you can't be just told to "get out if you don't like it here" as we foreigners often hear when giving negative feedback.

Thanks again and please keep writing.

Posted by Stephen on April 3, 2013 19:15


Deputy Ed you've done it yet again alienated your readership don't you get it we can't all be wrong
What's happened to the old experienced Australian codger that used to edit this paper has he gone off walk about or did he complain to much about tuk-tuks and jet skies and the sponsors complained and he got the push.
These current editorial rants are bordering on the xenophobic but then you even had a rant at Somchai the Thai who thinks you've lost the plot, any way go and lay down in a dark room and don't edit anything else until the hate,frustration and general angst has left you after all your only here once and it shouldn't be lived constantly angry I don't mind if it gets trashed as long as it gets to you bye bye

Posted by Scunner on April 3, 2013 19:30

Editor Comment:

It's odd people don't always develop wisdom with age, Scunner, or grow a desire for fairness with passing years. Comprehension skills don't improve, either. And if the majority vote at the public meeting against buses, judging from what you say about large numbers, I guess you'll approve of that, too.


ED - "the public meeting against buses"

At what public meeting is that majority anticipated? The taxi mafia consultation meeting? You are losing balance and consequently the plot, and all remaining shreds of credibility. What happened to "Publish and be damned"?

Posted by stu on April 3, 2013 22:42

Editor Comment:

We don't share the desire of some readers for confrontation and potential violence. Public meetings are an excellent way of raising and debating controversial issues. The benefits of a bus service are obvious and will be fully understood by everyone, in good time. Perhaps you should do a search for''tantalum Phuket'' and read up a bit about what can go wrong without consensus.



how much go to yatch heaven marina from airport phuket by tuk tuk ?

Posted by ashraf on April 7, 2013 22:21


I can't remember a survey that showed that tourists desperately want an airport bus system ... as a tourist using an airport bus is going to be inconvenient as it will not take them directly to their destination, they will still have to get from the busstop to the hotel, if we hereto add waiting time before departing airport then I don't see this as being a popular choice. Best option is to take a limo or a taxi. What Phuket need is public transport as such connecting the different parts of the island with a safe and frequent bus service, ticket prices should be set by the market, the pink busses are already doing some good work but a lot more is required. But for tourists I don't think the airport buslink has a high priority.

Posted by Sailor on April 8, 2013 07:16

Editor Comment:

I note that after 147 posts using one name, you've changed your alias for this one.


Yes, that is correct and it has been quite a while since I last posted anything in this forum, must have been last year sometime.

Posted by Sailor on April 8, 2013 10:48


@Ciaran your got it wrong its the newspaper he runs on the side
just kidding you really think being a editor of a newspaper he has time for hobbies.

Posted by slickmelb on April 29, 2013 18:15

Wednesday October 27, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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