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Struggling meter taxi drivers seek parking spots all over Phuket now

Meter Taxi Drivers Protest at Low Profit

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
PHUKET: The drivers of meter taxis on Phuket protested today at Phuket Provincial Hall because they claim that the number of cabs is increasing while tourists interested in using them are decreasing.

About 30 drivers, carrying out the demonstration at the ombudsman's office in Phuket City, said they wanted parking spots all over the island to maintain their income and prevent harassment by ''mafia'' taxi and tuk-tuk drivers.

Phuket's complex taxi arrangements - mostly achieved through threats of street blockades - give the holiday island among the world's highest fares, based on average wages.

Catching a cab on Phuket will cost you at least six times what it costs in Bangkok.

Efforts by Land Transport Department officials to have meter taxis pick up passengers all over Phuket appear to be running out of fuel.

Thawisak Phomtadi, 41, leader of the taxi drivers in today's protest, said that there were now 306 meter taxi drivers at Phuket International Airport.

''We once got four fares a day but that's now dropped to one fare a day,'' he told Phuketwan.

''That's because of the increasing number of meter taxis and what seems to be a decreasing number of tourists who want to use them.''

Efforts to encourage taxis to pick up fares all over the island were not succeeding, he said.

''We really need designated parking spots around the island to make that work,'' he said. ''Not enough customers are hailing passing cabs around Phuket.''

Meter taxis were once confined to picking up passengers at Phuket International Airport, making the trip then returning directly to the airport without a fare for the next assigned arriving passenger, or responding to calls to be taken to the airport.

With more of the set-fare taxis converting to meters, the Transport Department now seems to have been unable to achieve conditions where meter taxi drivers can prosper at the expense of the still-growing number of set-fare taxi drivers.

Although meter taxi drivers may be struggling because of increased competition, Phuket has far more taxis and tuk-tuks than it needs.

This is because the fares are extortionate and taxis drivers on Phuket can afford to spend most of their day waiting for one or two trips.

Taxi drivers in most places elsewhere in Thailand and around the world charge more reasonable fares and work harder, picking up and dropping off passengers throughout their shift.

On Phuket, the fares are so high that residents can seldom afford a taxi.

The result of having a large group who earn a good income from so little work rebounds in attitudes across the broader community on Phuket.

Many of the public parking spots on Phuket, especially in Patong, have already been commandeered by set-fare taxis and tuk-tuk drivers.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


It's called cause and effect.

Posted by Arun Muruga on May 6, 2015 12:31


With the fares they charge and their incredibly hostile and sometimes violent behavior, I, together with my friends, will go out of our ways NEVER to use any taxi or tuk-tuk on Phuket.

We highly encourage our visitors not to either and will pool our cars to make sure no-one has to.

I'm sure I'm not the only expat feeling this way.

Zero sympathy for any Phuket taxi or tuk-tuk drivers. You only have your own greed to blame.

Posted by Herbert on May 6, 2015 13:02


Request for parking slots is absolutely reasonable and should be , in the end, granted, but not on the account of existing parking slots that are in use by general public as they are so scare resource.

I never seen such incompetent urban (yes, Phuket is not countryside) planning like in Phuket, where city zoning/planning regulation, even in densely developed Patong, requires ZERO parking slots with any development, leaving it to discretion (and, yes, yes, yes - to the profit of developer; how good is that to have city planners so sim pathetic, for no reason, to developers!) of a developer , in fact to virtually zero, except big hotels.
This all continues up to this date. Until city planning rules are not amended, the problem will only proliferate . And a solution now is for authorities to buy out some plot out of private hands and covert it into public land - parking slots.

Actually, applying adequate parking slots requirements, GREATLY eats developers' margin - so benefit not to have imposed allocation of a part of developed land plot for parking, either private or public, generates quite a lot of money..

Posted by Sue on May 6, 2015 13:02


Protest are useless for various reasons.
-Fare are to high.
-Many taxi meters are 'manipulated'
_Local thai people, like in BKK, can not use Phuket taxis, coz fare is highest in the world.
- when a Phuket taxi driver can live on 1 or 2 trips a day, than something is wrong with the fare setting. Quite simple.
- It seems to be crocodile tear complaining. Get a life, start working like taxi drivers do in Bangkok.

Why these taxi driver think decreasing numbers of tourists want to use them?
Where is the thinking?

Posted by Kurt on May 6, 2015 13:35


How about charge same rate as Bangkok Meter Taxi then i would use you instead of renting a car!

Posted by Johan on May 6, 2015 14:24


Taxis are too expensive. One can hire a car for around 1000baht per day. Sometimes more sometimes less. If taxis were cheaper people would use them.
Why hire a tuk tuk for 10 minutes at 400 baht when that will get you 2 days motorbike hire ?
Its been my experience that the meter taxi drivers at the airport still prefer to leave the meters off.
Taxi and tuktuk drivers at Kata used to warn you off parking in public car spaces saying they were for them only.
My friends and I say we would use taxis if they were cheaper.
locals of most classes can afford cabs in Bangkok.

Posted by shadowcat on May 6, 2015 14:28


Reading that the taxis previously got 4 fares a day ( four only?), and now just 1 fare is opening our eyes ( may be not taxi drivers eyes). How many fares a BKK or Singapore has to do daily to make a living? It is time these well fed looking Phuket taxi drivers start to work. Their over-over charging actions during Songkran ( Navy was called in to keep peace on Phuket airport!) got world press. It was shocking, it was a disgrace. You want your taxi bowl of rice? Work for it! Try to restore your reputation, and stop faking your meters! Same trip, One 540 thb, same 2nd trip 760 thb. Scam!

Posted by Kurt on May 6, 2015 14:30



Zero sympathy for any Phuket taxi or tuck-tuk drivers

I can't agree with you.

I know well one one taxi group, where absolutely all members are 100% safety aware drivers - birth in driving habits ( even will chose better not to drive Thekrassatri as it is too dangerous , instead of going "long-cut" ; they never drink "in the office", also no drugs; even send a fellow driver for before-afternoon appointment if they had a party yesterday); absolutely polite with mutual respect from customers - many times while waiting for me they were greated by other expats, who apparently of positive attitude on their service ; some of them former hotel middle management , so they speak good English and know well proper protocol with foreigners.
Additional benefit is that they are not thugs who will "sell" infuriation where you are going etc., to arrange too free your pockets just before you arrive to a dinner.

I don't use them often, mostly by previous appointment - to pick me back from the dinner etc.
They charge me - of course after some friendly haggling - 20%-50% down of the effective market price , it is of course not BKK price level, but safe ride alone is already enough to chose them, and pay actual market price of the day. Especially, if in order to be ready to pick you up at the agreed time they had to cross half of the island, and arrive may be half an hour earlier to get a parking.

And they all are green plated.

Posted by Sue on May 6, 2015 14:34


Already some years ago a large group of expats living permanent on Phuket became fat up with Phuket taxis and mini vans. Overcharging, dangerous driving ( see photo's of limousines crashed).
So, a large expat group have now a inner transport circle. We drive each other as friends with closed wallet to and from airport. We drive safe, we have safety belts, we are no road cowboys. I am sure that also make the taxi drivers feel such in their pocket.
The transport scene on Phuket, whatever it is, taxis, mini vans, outdated busses ( with or without brakes), it sucks. Phuket transport,..improve yourself, become like in Singapore, than you will get a good living. Just waving protest papers at Provincial hall is a joke when you only do 1 fare a day. It is saying anything about you, your fares and your service,

Posted by Kurt on May 6, 2015 14:47


charge a decent fair and stop ripping off locals and tourists alike, don't the so called Phuket taxi drivers read how bad they are on the Internet/web
The only people who use taxis are the ones that don't know the rip off or true prices. And as said before cause and effect.

Posted by lurch on May 6, 2015 15:05


Phuket Airport taxi fare at least 6 times like at BKK Suvarnabumi airport. That doesn't work on holiday island Phuket, most tourist experienced taxis in BKK already before coming to Phuket.
Tourist, no exceptions, experience Phuket taxis as a rip off, including the bad service and unsafe to fast driving.( going through red traffic lights, passing by waiting cars on right side, just call it, and it happens). And,.. taxi meters you can not trust, the driver cheats you in front of your eyes. Bolster income? Gentlemen drivers, become honest, have correct taximeter code on, drive safe. And than make a living with working, do more 'fares'. Don't be lazy.

Posted by Kurt on May 6, 2015 15:10


Lets not forget that a lot of the meter taxis refuse to turn on their meters. Bet they didn't mention THAT to the Ombudsman.

Posted by Mister Ree on May 6, 2015 15:27


@ Mister Ree, these so called taxi drivers forwarded to Ombudsman just only what they like to tell the Ombubsman. But we know, the Ombudsman was not born yesterday. The Ombudsman knows to about what is wrong in the taxi scene. The Ombudsman knows too about the Navy presence at Phuket airport during Songkran to keep law and order, because the taxi mafia did upset the incoming tourists to the bone.

Posted by Kurt on May 6, 2015 15:41


There meter fares are nearly as high as limo service my girlfriend just got meter taxi from airport was 780 baht plus he told her the airport surcharge is 100 baht ? So total is nearly the same as limousine which is 900 baht from airport

Posted by Michael on May 6, 2015 15:50

Editor Comment:

When meter taxis were introduced, the hope was that the real fares would attract customers. But the non-meter taxis fought so long and hard that eventually, the meter taxis caved in and adopted similar rates.


If they had a decent system like Singapore where you just ring up tell them where you are and message is dispatched to all taxis in vicinity and then number of taxi and time arrive given to you

I don't even know what there number is haven't they heard of marketing

Posted by Michael on May 6, 2015 16:02


Too many of them/been unregulated decades and un enforced when they do/ overcharging scams door stop sales obstructing hotel entrances seizing all parking filthy unroadworthy vehs unhygienic drivers insane driving the words out tourists are sick of you and avoiding Phuket all your fault hand back the cab your doomed to fail.

Posted by slickmelb on May 6, 2015 16:10


Ever tried to get a meter taxi to actually turn on the meter?

This is why no one wants to use them.

Posted by Sir Burr on May 6, 2015 16:44


Eh... Som nam na?
Apart from a few old tuktuk drivers in the town, most of them are greedy and lazy. Please do your job properly or get a real job. No sympathy.

Posted by Tinkerbell on May 6, 2015 18:46


@ SUE: "..They charge me - of course after some friendly haggling - 20%-50% down of the effective market price.."
This behavior remember me my 2 holiday spent in Sicily Italy. The first was bed because I went alone and the second, with a Sicilan friend of mine, was like to go in anhoter country.. Because all friends all rates and services from locals were superb...

Posted by dave on May 6, 2015 19:57


Classic Phuket logic - less people so charge more.

What do they want? Charge 4 times as much because 1/4 the customers.

Better idea - get rid of 3/4 the taxis & free up some road space.

Posted by Logic on May 6, 2015 21:28


It still seems to be a case of too many taxis and not enough customers.

Posted by mike on May 6, 2015 22:41



Ha ha! :)) Yes, it is already very much in such direction, as their networking includes "half-of-the-island" - so all security guards allow them to park their vehicles while waiting, etc.

And when I hear occasionally "let's go another [longer] road as it is safer" it's such a music for my ears!

Actually, not all taxi drivers are rotten apple at Phuket at all: at 1AM in the New Year I driven with a taxi driver from one of Laguna hotels to Patong beach party. He was so surprisingly fresh for a season, and driven so safety conscientiously,that I was not sorry to pay 800THB fare, considering that few hours in a NY is one of the most dangerous times to drive, and associated seasonal surcharge.

Posted by Sue on May 6, 2015 22:54


Thai economics at its greatest moment

Posted by sky on May 7, 2015 04:48


How can a taxi on Phuket cost me at least double what a metered taxi in Singapore costs ! Which is the most expensive country in the world.

Posted by Conquesador on May 7, 2015 05:52


@ Conquesador

Singapore is the most expensive country in the world ?

You don't get out much do you ?

Posted by Herbert on May 7, 2015 09:23


The parking spot outside the new Pizza company restuarant on the 200 year public road has been commandeered by Pizza Company delivery boys. Tourists are told not to park there on the public road.

Posted by Patong Punter on May 7, 2015 18:09


I used a taxi meter from the airport a few days ago and the driver said that he will not pick up people who hail him from the roadside because if a fixed fee meter driver saw this then he would be beaten up by the fixed fee meter drivers

Posted by Paul on May 7, 2015 19:11


everything is said in the comments by herbert and others. First, all taxis without meters should be banned , secondly the same system and fares in use in Bangkok should applie to Phuket .

Posted by petermach on May 9, 2015 10:52


Respect for the taxi drivers!

I like the action and it is there right to protest against low fares. Is it ethically right? I don`t mind. But they do it right and civilized, go to the person, who are setting the fares, instead of road blocks or stalking their guests or other transportation systems.

Have seen it all.

My congratulation to this clear minded action and i hope they have success.


Posted by Mike on May 12, 2015 15:02


A taxi costs me twice as much as the physiotherapy session at the Mission Hospital. A taxi costs me just one thousand baht return to the airport, than the return fare by 'plane to Bangkok.

BTW @Sue - Are you drunk? Again ..

Posted by tif on May 16, 2015 10:26

Sunday November 29, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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