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Metered taxis are easily distinguished from other Phuket taxis

Taxi Drivers Mob Patong Police Station Amid Reports of Rules Breach

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
PHUKET: Scores of taxi drivers converged on Patong's Kathu Police Station tonight after a row blew up over a rival taxi's alleged breach of the Phuket taxi rules.

Patong taxi drivers feared a metered taxi driver from Phuket International Airport had been about to pick up a passenger in Patong after dropping off a passenger there.

At this busy time of year, traffic moves very slowly around Patong's one-way system and a metered taxi from Phuket airport is bound to be carefully watched.

The alarm went up when traffic slowed to a stop - and perhaps a tourist or two made inquiries.

Metered taxis are rare in Patong, where tuk-tuks and taxis - illegal and legal - still control public transport.

The thought of a metered taxi actually picking up a fare in Patong led to scores of taxis descending on the local police station in a mass protest.

Police sources said there was no intention on the part of the metered taxi driver, in strange territory, to pick up a fare.

Phuket's taxis charge excessive amounts that bring many complaints from tourists because the drivers are forced to return to their departure point empty.

Years of rivalry between local village groups has led to Phuket having one of the most antiquated and expensive taxi systems in the world.

Passengers are forced to pay for both the journey they make and the journey they don't make as the driver returns to his Phuket base empty.

It has been suggested that all Phuket taxis adopt a call centre system so that fares can be reduced and a smaller number of dedicated, efficient taxi drivers could do the work.

As it is, many young men on Phuket aspire to become taxi drivers instead of furthering their education at university because taxi drivers often earn more than degree graduates.

UPDATE


In a comment below, regular Phuketwan reader Simon Luttrell writes:

THE METERED taxi in question was driven by the brother of my ex-wife. I have known him personally for years.

He is an experienced taxi driver and knows 'the rules' about picking up fares outside his home ground of the airport.

He collected some passengers from the airport and dropped them off at a Patong hotel. As he was about to return to the airport, some other tourists at that hotel leant through his car window to (presumably) ask about a taxi need.

Immediately as this happened, 4 local taxi drivers who were parked opposite the hotel ran over and physically attacked my brother-in-law. No-one came to his aid and he knows that there is absolutely zero point in making a complaint to the Patong police.

Today he is resting at home and recovering from his beating, and is now fearful of driving passengers from the airport to Patong destinations.

What can I say? I've lived in Phuket with my Thai family since 2002 and I'm the owner of 2 small airport hotels in Phuket. Like them, I am sick and tired of the problems on that island which have only increased over the years, and made running an honest business more and more difficult.

My current and working location since earlier this year should give a strong clue as to my future plans.

Simon
Yangon, Myanmar

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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The reason its all pathetic on both parts is for instance...
ALL taxi's in Bangkok use LPG which is about 11baht/litre.
Even if we said a car does 10km per litre, thats still only 5 litres from Patong to the Airport.
Including their reasoning of return fair would then come to 10 litres. So to me, that would make it less than 120 baht.

Posted by Tbs on December 26, 2012 22:29

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This article condenses everything that is wrong with Phuket "public" transport.

The day this Taxi and Tuk-Tuk mafia is broken down, 99% of Phuket people, residents, locals and visitors alike, will certainly have cause to celebrate. Bigtime.

It's inconceivable that a tiny group of selfish thugs can hold a whole island traffic system hostage.

Despite the appeals of several foreign envoys, HCs and Ambassadors alike, the central government in BKK has not done anything to rectify the problem.

Someone sure is lending them a big helping hand.

Posted by Andrew on December 26, 2012 22:53

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This taxi mafia situation is still out of hand. When is the "government" going to step in? How many more innocent people are going to victims? I talked with my friend that was in the news last year after one of his driver's was attacked in a well publicized case. He said his drivers still have problems everyday. This transportation mafia needs to be reined in! We need real public transportation. Not a bunch of greedy, lazy people that feel like they are entitled to way more than anyone else in a legitimate job earns per day.

Posted by Jim McGowan on December 26, 2012 22:58

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These people are the reason I always grab a car when I am on the island. Much rather drive a new air conditioned little Honda hatch for 1500 baht for the day than have to grab a tuk tuk... They do get a little update with me when I park on the beach road in Patong to grab some shopping though as they apparently own all of this :)

Posted by Ty on December 27, 2012 03:04

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Taxi on Phuket are too cheap. On Japan taxi are 5 times more expensive than Phuket. Yes, in Bangkok taxi are even cheaper than Phuket. Bangkok taxi driver cannot make honest living for his family. Need to have 1 or 2 other jobs also. Phuket also. Cannot make good salary as taxi driver because taxi fare too low. Double what is now would be OK. Then taxi driver can afford to eat. I support increase of Phuket taxi. 1000 baht should be minimum from airport to Patong.

Posted by John on December 27, 2012 04:39

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Anything that highlights the issues is good. It's a big problem that the roads are clogged with tuk-tuk mini trucks and legal / illegal taxis, especially in Patong. The system should be much more efficient.

This is why the rental business is doing so well, which also adds to congestion and... accidents. Anyone that can drive themselves, does.

Posted by Ty on December 27, 2012 07:58

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Patong taxis need a kick up the back side just shows how stupid the whole system is.

Posted by LJ on December 27, 2012 08:01

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"Years of rivalry between local village groups has led to Phuket having one of the most antiquated and expensive taxi systems in the world."

This sums up a big part of the problem.
The rest is the power held through leasing the tuk tuks and taxis together with the leasing of "public" parking spaces for them.

Posted by Evilbaz on December 27, 2012 08:24

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Taxi on Phuket are too cheap. On Japan taxi are 5 times more expensive than Phuket. Yes, in Bangkok taxi are even cheaper than Phuket. Bangkok taxi driver cannot make honest living for his family. Need to have 1 or 2 other jobs also. Phuket also. Cannot make good salary as taxi driver because taxi fare too low. Double what is now would be OK. Then taxi driver can afford to eat. I support increase of Phuket taxi. 1000 baht should be minimum from airport to Patong.

Are you kidding me??? 1,000 Baht is like 3 times the average daily salary. Where else in the world would you pay 3 days pay for a single taxi ride???

Posted by Anonymous on December 27, 2012 08:33

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thanks for giving me the credit but wrong person mate ;) Anything that highlights the issues is good. It's a big problem that the roads are clogged with tuk-tuk mini trucks and legal / illegal taxis, especially in Patong. The system should be much more efficient.

This is why the rental business is doing so well, which also adds to congestion and... accidents. Anyone that can drive themselves, does."

Posted by Ty on December 27, 2012 09:23

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Rules or mob rules? Once again these guys want their cake and eat it. Funny how when the boot may be on the other foot these guys go crying to the cops. Shame the police didn't seize the opportunity to check the legality of the drivers protesting but the tail continues to wag the dog in Patong.

Posted by Mister Ree on December 27, 2012 09:31

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There seems to be not real commitment to solve the transport problems!
4 days ago, when arriving at Phuket airport from Bangkok, I have been approached by 12!! people offering me taxi service before I even left the terminal.
I counted the people approaching me as I did see a huge number of those ''sharks'' waiting for their 'prey' when I was leaving the baggage claim area! Those people did not easily take ''no'' for an answer! Feel sorry for arriving tourists!
What a mess ... With consent of our authorities!

Posted by Mr. K on December 27, 2012 09:35

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The metered taxi in question was driven by the brother of my ex-wife. I have known him personally for years.

He is an experienced taxi driver and knows 'the rules' about picking up fares outside his home ground of the airport.

He collected some passengers from the airport and dropped them off at a Patong hotel. As he was about to return to the airport, some other tourists at that hotel leant through his car window to (presumably) ask about a taxi need.

Immediately as this happened, 4 local taxi drivers who were parked opposite the hotel ran over and physically attacked my brother-in-law. No-one came to his aid and he knows that there is absolutely zero point in making a complaint to the Patong police.

Today he is resting at home and recovering from his beating, and is now fearful of driving passengers from the airport to Patong destinations.

What can I say? I've lived in Phuket with my Thai family since 2002 and I'm the owner of 2 small airport hotels in Phuket. Like them, I am sick and tired of the problems on that island which have only increased over the years, and made running an honest business more and more difficult.

My current and working location since earlier this year should give a strong clue as to my future plans.

Simon
Yangon, Myanmar

Posted by Simon Luttrell on December 27, 2012 11:39

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@ Mr K.... toughen up Susan, this is the way Phuket/Asia rolls. Nobody is ever threatening...just a firm "no" will always suffice

Posted by Ty on December 27, 2012 11:39

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John is probably one of the people who makes money on taxi transport here.
That will explain his comment.
Perhaps he also supports that the lack of public transport takes a lot of lives, because many accidents could be avoided if fewer people were forced to drive motorbikes.

Posted by Sherlock on December 27, 2012 12:49

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Three posts in 6 days which have been selectively ignored by the editor. Any free speech here??

Posted by Ty on December 27, 2012 13:41

Editor Comment:

All your comments since December 12 from this email have been added. Back then, we opted not to post ''It appears not all comments are being added.''

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Arrived from HK on a scheduled flight at 2.30am a couple of days ago. 3 flights arrived at the same time. All the girls at the "Taxi" desks said the taxis had finished. The same Staff using the same taxis were at the door charging between 1500 and 2,000 baht for a taxi to Phuket Town. Place was in Chaos with many tourists not carrying that much Baht expecting the "Official Price". Even allowing for a after 12pm surcharge x3 is crazy. But its all controlled now, right?

Posted by Anonymous on December 27, 2012 18:21

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Do i geht i right?
1. Metered AirPort Taxi driver was beaten for talking to hotel guest. Nobody helped him. He did not take a return passenger on bord.
2. The real taxi stage a drive in at police headquarters, protesting against ... What?
Brutality against a fellow driver ( )
A not attempt of breaking a monopoly to reap insane fares ( )
Just showing off they are angry and you better be fearful ( )


These people really lost any feeling for what to be earned by effort and what they think they are entitled to get for just being. Thailand could be so much stronger as a nation, but it chooses not to. Good for Burma.

Posted by Lena on December 27, 2012 18:29

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omg, I will never post a comment via my iPad again... wrong language word filter makes me look so stupid.

Posted by Lena on December 27, 2012 19:48

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Simon,

thanks indeed for update.

But in regard of doing business in Myanmar - do you think that corruption risks are lower there than in Thailand? And that apparatus, taht still works on behalf of military and their proteges and businesses, will take fair stance toward foreigners, or at least to be more fair than in Thailand?
I doubt soo.. I afraid that it is honeymoon with Myanmar before the truth come true.

Posted by SUe on December 29, 2012 04:33

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@ John. Your comment, if serious, is completely nonsense. Phuket tuk tuk drivers make over 20,000B/mo in the low season and 50,000B a month in the high season.

Posted by NomadJoe on December 30, 2012 20:43

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@ NomadJoe

They make (or at least used to make) quite a bit more than that. A couple of years back one tuk-tuk driver was complaining in the news (might have been PG) that they used to make Bt 3000 per day. That's a cool Bt 90.000 per month if they work every day.

A job that pays double that of a bank manager, requires no education, no training and obviously no manners either is unimaginable, yet as true and real as it can ever be right here on Phuket.

Posted by Andrew on December 30, 2012 23:57


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