But the fear is now being spread among the notoriously bad-behaving drivers and the people who support them.
The taxi stand hut at Phuket's Surin beach toppled yesterday and today the demolishers returned to pull down 32 vendor's stalls that have blocked the car park for years.
The scene was virtually unrecognisable. Space for people to park cars! Locals could not believe it.
And that's the problem. Can the push to end the corruption and the years of tuk-tuk and taxi driver intimidation be believed?
Not far from Surin beach, managers in classy resorts were delighted to have the eyesore that was the local taxi ''mafia'' hangout pulled down and carted off, as at many places in Kamala, Patong and Cherng Talay.
But when an effort was made to bring in legitimate drivers, the legitimate drivers hesitated. ''How can we be sure those other guys won't come back?'' they asked.
Taxis and tuk-tuks have become much harder to find along Phuket's west coast - and true to form, some drivers are asking holidaymakers to pay 20 percent more for their far-from-luxurious services.
Everyone wants to know whether the police mean what they have been saying this time, or whether, as in previous crackdowns, the situation is a temporary show.
The police are saying that enforcement of the law is here to stay.
Phuket has heard that before. But this time, the signs are more positive than ever before - and the stars appear to be in alignment.
Investigators were raiding homes in Kamala this morning, looking for suspects and documents. The task force team that has already turned up bank accounts totalling more than 100 million baht for one taxi driver won't stop until all the corrupt networks have been exposed.
This means linking the drivers and their mobs to local appointed and elected officials, and punishing those who have condoned or benefitted from the control that the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers have wielded over the island for years.
Where will the exposure stop?
What if examination of the bank accounts of various local officials incriminates not only Phuket taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, but also expat businesspeople who have bent the law, to their profit?
Region 8 Police Commander and Task Force Chief, Major General Panya Mamen, said yesterday that enforcement will be 100 percent on Phuket from now on: ''We will use every aspect of law enforcement to bring criminals under control and to protect witnesses.''
Major General Panya's view is in alignment with the determination expressed on national television last night by coup commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who said Thailand's ailments must be properly fixed or there's no point in maintaining military control.
The army's delegation of 100 soldiers formed just a small but important part of the task force of 1150 troops, police and volunteers who conducted a series of swoops on drivers this week in the Kata-Karon district - Phuket's most notorious area for tuk-tuk and taxi extortion and intimidation.
Those cases are to be compiled and provided to the Phuket Public Prosecutor by July 15, the major general said.
Then the heat will be turned on Patong, where the taxi and tuk-tuk network is said to be as large, but controlled by fewer people.