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Phuket Governor Staying On To Meter Tuk-Tuks

Phuket Governor Staying On To Meter Tuk-Tuks

Friday, March 5, 2010
PHUKET Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob will continue in that role until September, with meters for tuk-tuks and taxis high on his list of priorities.

The governor is impressed with Bangkok meters that give taxi customers precise written details on completion of each trip.

The printed stub in the photograph above explains that the trip of 24.6 kilometres lasted 22 minutes and the total fare was 167 baht. Tuk-tuk fares on Phuket start at a minimum of 200 baht.

Critics say Phuket fares, often 10 times those of Bangkok, are extortionate and a turn-off for tourists as the island seeks to recover from the global downturn.

Governor Wichai told Phuketwan yesterday that he was anxious to introduce meters for Phuket vehicles, adding: ''In seven months, I can do many things.''

He said he needed to act in Phuket's best interests because he does not believe that the tuk-tuk groups are sincere about reforming their own industry.

Residents and tourists in greater numbers are now avoiding the use of uncomfortable tuk-tuks that can never serve the island properly because of graft and outmoded village rivalries.

Earlier this year, a group of honorary consuls and representatives from 15 key nations asked the governor to spearhead changes to give Phuket a reasonably-priced and safe public transport system.

Governor Wichai was due to take retirement aged 60 in April but asked Bangkok authorities for an extension of time. He is leading a Phuket delegation to the important ITB Berlin travel trade exhibition in Germany next week.

In Berlin, he is expected to see first-hand other options that are probably more suitable for Phuket in the 21st century, with competition for tourists everywhere now more intense and price-sensitive.

At the same time as Phuket resorts have been forced to reduce room rates because of the economic crisis, hundreds more legal and illegal tuk-tuks and taxis have been added, with the fares remaining unchanged and excessive.
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Comments

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It would truly be a good legacy if he could get this implemented and used, during his watch..

Posted by LivinLOS on March 5, 2010 11:04

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It's great if Governor can make it happen, but there are other worries as well.

While driving to work this morning I was looking all the locals driving to work alone with their motorbikes and cars. Hardly any of the cars have other passengers (except the ones that transfer Burmese workers..).

Why are there no proper bus stops and lines across the island, just like they have in any major city in Europe? Should be pretty simple to implement and it would reduce the amount of traffic a lot.

Send someone to one of the major cities in Europe to learn how to do it.

We easily concentrate to problems that mainly concern tourists and other foreigners, but should remember that there are locals living on the island as well that suffer from the poor transportation situation.

Fixing the tuk tuk problem won't help them that much.

Implementing a good enough bus system would also put pressure to tuk tuk's and taxi's to change pricing of their services. Of course, those operating public buses (government?) should be protected from the "competitors".

Good job Mr. Governor, I really hope that your successor will also pay attention to important issues.

Editor: Phuketwan has been advocating the introduction of a cheap and efficient public transport system that would benefit all residents, not just expats.

Posted by Jimbo on March 5, 2010 15:07

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Go get em gov.

Posted by Philip on March 5, 2010 18:09

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I always forget how realistically the prices of taxis are in Bangkok. 167 Baht for a 24.6km ride. Great!

And like the other poster said, it really would be great if a proper public transportation system could be implemented.

Posted by Anonymous on March 5, 2010 18:22

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i have to say this thanks governor WICHAI for listening to all farangs and good luck with all you do for phuket


you are as we say in the uk.....
a gentleman and a scholar..having had the pleasure of meeting and discussing safety in phuket tourism with him, i have utter respect for him.. good luck..

Posted by jd on March 5, 2010 18:39

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If the Governor can sort out the tuk-tuk problems, then he will achieved the impossible. He seems determined to take action. Let's all give him our full support in the many other project he is also tackling.

Posted by Littlechang on March 5, 2010 18:54

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There is a clear need for a proper bus system plus metered cab system. I have difficult crossing Thepkrasatrii Rd at 7am.There are 60-90 vehicles a minute passing in each direction during daylight hours.

This means that there are 30,000 vehicles plus a day heading in each direction yet there is only the occasional blue bus.The bypass road is just as congested. There is no place for tuk-tuks in a modern transport system.

Posted by Peter on March 6, 2010 12:52

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Peter, Thepkrasatri Rd is bad at the best of times. Tonight a young girl tried to cross it near the north turn around to go back to boat lagoon. You guessed it, such a young age, too. Also the street lighting is not the brightest in the land AND not to mention the bikers riding the wrong way...without lights on. Good grief 4th world status on the way. Sorry i did not get photos, left that to the grieving relatives.

Lets just accept this as the norm and move on to other things to complain about. It will only change when somebody very high up, has their family member snuffed out, then we will see action as the guilt sets in ? Drive carefully. Kab rod dee Krap.

Posted by Graham on March 6, 2010 23:19

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The day I can get a 24.6 km tuk-tuk ride in Phuket for 167 baht, I'll buy a bottle of champagne and raise a toast to Governor Wichai. The situation in Patong in particular is ludicrous.

Every night, hundreds of brand-new, empty tuk-tuks lined up end to end going nowhere, clogging the side of every major street. If this isn't a clear case of supply (and price) way exceeding demand, I don't know what is.

And the Phuket tuk-tuks are so oversized (basically minibuses), but I almost never see more than 1 or 2 people in them. Even at peak times, I'd be surprised if 10% of tuk-tuks are occupied. It's the economic disequilibrium spawned by organized crime.

Posted by Economist on March 12, 2010 13:07

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reply to jd comment on Friday March 5

Every governor listens to the farangs and public's comments, Every time there is a new governor, the same thing happens. Why are you thanking him, what has he done so far? Fix the jet ski problem's? Which has not really worked at all, and anther thing he has not got one new road accepted by the government in Bangkok as of yet.

Posted by James on March 19, 2010 02:46

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James, THANKS FOR YOUR OPINION;
Having lived and worked in tourism here for the last 20 years and seen what all the other governors have done for Phuket....not a lot..
this is the only guy who listens and tries to negotiate the problems here in PHUKET.Don't forget ROME was not built in a day, and we are guests here
we don't have the right to do anything.
be positive, give the governor a chance.

Posted by jd on March 23, 2010 11:36

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In better times there were fewer drivers and more tourists. Life was good back then (when Thaksin was boss). Whereas today, Joe tuk-tuk driver is operating in a market with much more supply than demand and this inevitably creates a dog-eat-dog environment, forcing him into survival mode.

Thus he's going to do whatever it takes to maximize his own personal gain in the short term, regardless of how others are being impacted, including Joe. Over time, the negative actions of these individuals accumulate and lead to collectively damaging behavior that will simply drive off more and more customers but not reduce the total number of drivers enough for the market to reach a state of equilibrium.

The drivers who do leave tend to be the nice guys. The drivers who remain are hardened law/rule breakers who must up their cheating just to make ends meet, and so on. Something has to give.

Since the drivers won't willingly leave or agree to a reduction in the price of fares - that leaves the job of cutting supply by reducing the fleet size to greedy fleet owners who rent out tuk-tuks (as far as I understand drivers rent their tuk-tuk). But fleet owners are not looking to reduce their fleet size by 50 percent which would reduce their revenues from rental fees accordingly, just so drivers can earn more and perhaps ease up on price-gouging passengers.

Quite the contrary: fleet owners need the driver to price gouge. Not that those drivers would give up price-gouging given an increase in income, they would surely continue to charge those ''rich tourists'' fares based upon the perceived willingness of those tourists to pay and just pocket the extra cash.

While drivers and owners are locked in this death embrace, tourists are forced to foot the bill either willingly or unknowingly - and governments, both locally and nationally, are forced to deal with complaints and bad press.

The bad news for drivers and owners is that tourists continue to tighten their belts and pay more attention to pricing. And when they're ripped off - even for a tiny amount - people are becoming consumer activists and exposing fraud, eg, videos on YouTube.

The only way out is not through the ''invisible hand of the marketplace'' which clearly went missing during the Wall Street meltdown, but through government regulation of fares and the installation of fare meters, which is the traditional solution for taxis.

Posted by Paul Giles on May 3, 2010 23:59

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We were there a few years ago and held to ransom by the Tuk Tuk M****. We will be there next May on the Sun Princess and will stay on board the ship. Rather than they rip us off again.

Posted by Charles on November 17, 2010 18:45


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