PHUKET: Phuket's thousands of motorcycle taxis are being included in a data base that will be the start of more thorough regulation and controls.
In the same way that authorities last year determined how many taxis were on Phuket, a list of motorcycle taxis is being compiled.
A preliminary survey shows there are more than 3000 motorcycle taxis across Phuket, with most operating legally and illegally around Patong.
Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada, who takes charge of Phuket's transport-related issues, headed the meeting this week with district-by-district reports on the numbers of motorcycle taxis.
In Kathu, whih includes Patong, there were 1456 motorcycle taxis at 191 ranks. Another 220 riders operated in Patong without being assigned ranks.
In Phuket City, officials listed 1064 motorcycle taxis at 113 ranks. Another 162 riders operated illegally at 43 ranks.
In Thalang, the third of Phuket's districts, 259 motorcycle taxis operated at 18 ranks. Thalang also has sidecar motorcycle taxis, with 23 operating at Bang Tao and another 38 at Tesco Lotus, Thalang.
Proposals include a ban on drinking alcohol while working and harsher penalties for illegal taxi riders, the meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City was told.
Registration of motorcycle taxis is expected to follow a similar process to the registration of vehicular taxis last year.
Taxi, tuk-tuk and motorcycle taxi numbers continue to grow on Phuket because the island has few public transport options.
Phuketwan has recommended putting an end to extortionate fares by intoducing a call centre system so that passengers are no longer charged for a trip they don't make.
Taxis still return empty to their ranks because of historical inter-village rivalries. Lack of fair prices for taxis leaves Phuket at a disadvantage compared to other holiday destinations.
Phuketwan also recommends capping the number of drivers, relicencing them all, imposing annual quality checks and service training, and reducing the total number of taxis by 10 percent each year for three years as the call centre is introduced.
Such a system would end passengers being forced to pay for a trip they don't make, cutting existing fares by half and making them comparable with other destinations.
It would also free Phuket's west coast roads from massive congestion caused by multiple ranks.
Maximum fares would be set and closely controlled but negotiable downwards.
Drivers who voluntarily abandoned the taxi business would be retrained in other skills at government expense.