Tourism News

Tourism News Phuketwan Tourism News
facebook recommendations

NEWS ALERTS

Sign up now for our News Alert emails and the latest breaking news plus new features.

Click to subscribe

Existing subscribers can unsubscribe here

RSS FEEDS

Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada spelling out a new deal

THE BIG CLEANUP New Deal Spelled Out

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
EXCLUSIVE: Brave Enough to Change Phuket

PHUKET: A Bangkok-style taxi queue system will be adopted at Phuket International Airport, restrictions will be placed on the number of cabs outside Phuket resorts, and illegal ''black'' taxi drivers are going to be arrested.

Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada told a meeting yesterday that these innovations were coming as the Department of Special Investigations intervened from Bangkok to sort out Phuket's problems.

''August 13 marks the deadline for all taxis to be registered or you will be forced off the road on Phuket,'' he said in the strongest warning yet.

''If you want to be a public taxi, you must register.

''We have the names, the telephone numbers, the photographs of all authorised taxi drivers.

''Once the DSI campaign begins from this Friday, if you are not on the list, you will be out.''

He said a systematic series of raids was being planned on all 186 taxi queues across Phuket.

''A new system will be introduced to do away with huts or salas for drivers outside all Phuket resorts,'' he said.

''There will be defined spaces for one, two or three taxis outside resorts, and that will be it.''

Resort managements have frequently complained about rowdy drivers playing music or burning rubbish at their huts, as well as the intimidation of guests.

Perhaps the biggest Phuket reform is coming in September, the vice governor said, when the existing contracts between the Phuket airport management and taxi and limo drivers come to an end.

''The airport will be adopting a system similar to that at Bangkok airports,'' the vice governor said.

''Green-plate cabs only will be allowed to queue and they will pick up the passengers one by one as they exit the airport,'' he said.

''This whole exercise has been a struggle for people on Phuket to find a solution. But now I'm not worried because people from Bangkok are coming to clean our Phuket house.

''This is a strong message. If you want to protest, you will need to protest to the DSI, to the anti-corruption officers, and to the tax revenue investigators.

''Enough is enough. You now have to take one or two steps backwards.''

Groundwork for action to reform Phuket's taxis and tuk-tuks was laid last year by Phuket Land Transport Office Director Terayoot Prasertphol, who organised the registration of all taxis and a system for complaints.

He was awarded the Phuketwan Phuket Person of the Year 2012 title for his work, which also included an unsuccessful attempt to establish Phuket's first taxi call centre.

From Friday, the establishment of Crime Crisis Centres on Phuket and the arrival of police from Bangkok working around the clock to fix Phuket's problems is expected to generate changes.

''We've never had the capacity to do this in the past,'' Vice Governor Jamleran told a meeting of Phuket council leaders at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City. ''We are ready for change.''

Intervention by the DSI, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport and Bangkok police follows two years of sustained pressure applied by Phuket's honorary consuls, often through envoys in Bangkok.

Top of the list of tourist complains are extortionate taxi and tuk-tuk fares.

The rip-off can be fixed simply by establishing a call centre and ending the practice by drivers of charging tourists for the journey they don't make, back to the taxi queue.

Phuketwan was the only Phuket news outlet with a reporter at yesterday's meeting.

Comments

Add your comment using the form below.

Want an avatar for your comments? Register with Gravatar.


(not required, displayed if provided)

(required, not displayed)
(text-only, no links or tags, thanks)

gravatar

Having a "desk" at the airport doesn't address the question of extortionate fares. Nor does registration.
(moderated) Make them install meters!

Posted by jimbo on August 6, 2013 14:36

Editor Comment:

Meters can be turned off. Pointless at this time. Once a call centre is working, meters could be a consideration.

gravatar

Did anyone at the meeting actually address the core problem - the extortionate taxi and tuk-tuk fares?

Sounds like pricing remains the same but the pecking order is being reshuffled.

Sure it's a good start but misses the core problem. Just like a call center would not force anyone to charge any less for the ride either, rather just offer a new channel to get an overcharged taxi ride.

Strict enforcement of metered fare and the right for any legal taxi to pick up a fare anywhere on Phuket would.

Every taxi registered and/or operating on Phuket should be required to have and operate based on metered fare only.

Only longer trips outside Phuket should be on negotiation basis.

Posted by ThaiMike on August 6, 2013 14:39

Editor Comment:

Major change doesn't happen overnight. Meters are pointless until a call centre system is established.

gravatar

WOW!Looks like a great step for everyone! Even if they have a system at the airport to pick up arriving tourists, without metered taxis or flag downs, the rates could still be very high.

Posted by Ryan on August 6, 2013 14:52

gravatar

This better not be like the old boys club of years past. Reform for PR sake only and the fare is sky high. Why not make the fare guidelines the same as BKK? New sheriff in town.

Posted by GiantFan on August 6, 2013 14:58

Editor Comment:

Reforms take time. The wrongs of 20 years have to be righted.

gravatar

"Major change doesn't happen overnight. Meters are pointless until a call centre system is established."

your 2nd sentence is rubbish Ed. A call Center is in no way a prerequisite for a meter system. You need to see the bigger picture, and not be so myopic. Meters are the (only) answer. If you like - Make it illegal for them to be turned off, like anywhere else in the world.

Posted by eddy on August 6, 2013 15:21

Editor Comment:

I don't have time to debate it with you eddy, having been through this with others. We can either report the news, or deal with readers' obsessions. Please stop wasting my time. First the call centres, then the meters. End of debate.

gravatar

What all Phuketians, Thais and foreigners alike, is a decent and efficient public tranport system and all tuk-tuk and taxi in Phuket with metered odometer to avoid rip-off by greedy drivers.That is it.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 6, 2013 15:27

Editor Comment:

Yes, and a call centre is required first. Otherwise, the meters have no-one monitoring them.

gravatar

who will run your call centre, ed?? and how will they reinforce meters being used??

Posted by another steve on August 6, 2013 16:17

Editor Comment:

Phuket Land Transport would be the appropriate people. They already control taxi driver registration. if you're found not using a meter, you run the risk of losing your licence. Phuket needs to reskill 10 percent of its drivers each year over three years, establish a call centre system, allow pickups all over the island and cut fares in half. That ends the rip-off.

gravatar

Interesting how proactive the Vice Governor has suddenly become with the impending visit of the DSI! Big Boy's rules.

Posted by Mister Ree on August 6, 2013 16:37

Editor Comment:

The vice governor has been imploring, goading and cajoling taxi drivers and beach vendors for quite some time now. Perhaps he's just pleased, like most residents, to see the cavalry finally arrive. As he will be actively involved, he is saying and doing just what would you would expect him to do.

gravatar

You're way off Ed. Call centre? Who wants a call centre? I want to hail a cab quickly and easily, and pay a REASONABLE fare.
Rather than have a protracted and often heated arguement with a thug, i want to jump into his taxi/tuk-tuk and see a meter, which will then be turned ON.
Call Centre talk is just smoke and mirrors.

Posted by jimbo on August 6, 2013 16:50

Editor Comment:

Ok jimbo, you do it. But how?

gravatar

Happy to see that some problems being addresses but 1 thing missing - metered taxis

Posted by Steve on August 6, 2013 16:51

gravatar

Malaysia has a reasonable and fairly priced Call Centre system and plenty of Metered Taxis
Scams exist ... FACT!
Example #1: WORKING METERS are used by some drivers to REDUCE the correct CC cost!
Example #2: Readers who know Malaysia as well as I do to provide
Amazing Thailand vs Malaysia Truly Asia ... and the winner is? .....

Posted by Amazed in Thailand on August 6, 2013 17:02

Editor Comment:

Drivers in KL are notorious for going the long way around with strangers.

gravatar

Editor Comment:

Phuket Land Transport would be the appropriate people. They already control taxi driver registration. if you're found not using a meter, you run the risk of losing your licence. Phuket needs to reskill 10 percent of its drivers each year over three years, establish a call centre system, allow pickups all over the island and cut fares in half. That ends the rip-off.

You can do all that, but without the call centre.

Posted by eddy on August 6, 2013 17:08

Editor Comment:

Only by wasting the time of already understaffed police. Meter-dodgers will never be on their Wanted list. Nor should they be. And only with a call centre system will the streets be cleared of taxis and tuk-tuks. Sorry, that's it, eddy. End of debate.

gravatar

Of course taxa meters are not pointless without a call centre, it works great in Bangkok and elsewhere without it. Phuket need metered taxis, a lot of them and fast.

Posted by Sailor on August 6, 2013 17:11

Editor Comment:

Pickups without a call centre are difficult, Sailor, and the only way the taxis will abandon the return-to-base rip-off fare is if they have a chance of carrying another passenger back to base (or somewhere else) in the cab. It's not that hard to figure, No call centre, no chance of a pickup, no way taxi drivers will give up the rip-off.

gravatar

If the high prices are due to paying for the return fare, why is a one way trip from nai yang beach to big Buddha 900 and a return 1800?!

Posted by Sammy on August 6, 2013 17:16

Editor Comment:

If the driver had to hang about for you at Big Buddha, it's probably a waiting time fee.

gravatar

Strange reply because taxi drivers "are notorious for going the long way around with strangers" in most major cities in the world but then I suppose not a lot of people know that :-)

Posted by Amazed in Thailand on August 6, 2013 17:48

Editor Comment:

Nothing strange about it,
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/taxi-drivers-worlds-evil/
And we've heard nothing has changed.
Please control your pomposity.

gravatar

First I would like to point out that in the comments section here the ED seems to think every commenter is directing the comment to him to answer with all his worldly knowledge. Some of us are looking for discussion, not smack down by the guy that moderates and does not publish anything he wants - none of us think you are the smartest guy on Phuket dude (dam I hope my use of a - does not bring out your bad side again.) That said, the meters would be a great idea and dont need a call center to work - in Bangkok there is a number on the taxi that you call if the guy wont turn on the meter, or just flag down the next cop you see with a pic of the back of his taxi, hell the taxis there are not even allowed to turn down a fare to somewhere they dont want to drive to any more, dont know how many times that happened in Bangkok. Having a call center would be of great use for a lot of things, but all the taxis dont have to be part of it, but they all must use a meter.

Posted by Tim on August 6, 2013 19:16

Editor Comment:

I guess you and jimbo will be able to do it, then, based on the Bangkok precedent. But i would suggest that on Phuket, where the present system is nothing like Bangkok, meters will not be introduced without a call centre. There are already a small number of cabs on Phuket with meters, and everybody know how well that system works. A call centre and Land Transport control offers the prospect of enforcement. As has already been noted, taxis on Phuket are unlikely to exchange the present system for another model unless there's the best possible chance of them picling up a fare to replace the one they will be losing. Now you've had your free discussion and gratuitously insulted the editor . . . goodbye, Tim.

gravatar

But will they be Meter Taxis as in Bangkok? What should the fare be -- airport to, say, municipal building at Kata Beach?

Posted by Jerry on August 6, 2013 19:23

gravatar

NO. Thailand is ONE country. Therefore taximeters in every taxi with the same fare as in Bangkok is the ONLY way to be respected in the whole world. WHY NOT?? Call centers is even better BUT with taxis with taximeters. WHY NOT?? Every airport in the world gives choises. Do you want a fixed price OR a metered taxi.The metered taxis will then follow the LAW in the arrived country. Thugs always try to get in between and rip off innocent visitor. But in Phuket it is easy to force a law. Is it pure GREED by officials?? Of course it is a change for the Yai Baan officials but this is 2013. Wait for ASIAN 2015 and i will by a taximeterfleet of 500 cabs an whip ass.

Posted by One Expat 13 years on August 6, 2013 21:34

Editor Comment:

Of course you will. In Hong Kong, the rich are investing in taxi futures.

gravatar

I guess you and jimbo will be able to do it, then, based on the Bangkok precedent. But i would suggest that on Phuket, where the present system is nothing like Bangkok, meters will not be introduced without a call centre. There are already a small number of cabs on Phuket with meters, and everybody know how well that system works. A call centre and Land Transport control offers the prospect of enforcement. As has already been noted, taxis on Phuket are unlikely to exchange the present system for another model unless there's the best possible chance of them picling up a fare to replace the one they will be losing. Now you've had your free discussion and gratuitously insulted the editor . . . goodbye, Tim.

That's a pathetic response, especially the last sentence. Tim's comments are just as valid as yours. Taxis should be told what the new rules/model are to be (i.e. meters), not asked.

Posted by eddy on August 6, 2013 21:37

Editor Comment:

Sadly, eddy, anyone who says the answer is ''taxi meters'' without offering a strategy for a workable introduction on Phuket hasn't done their homework. Phuket has meters. They don't work. Multiply them and they still won't work. A strategy based on logic is essential and, sorry to burst your bubble, a call centre is a key part of any strategy on Phuket.

gravatar

"First the call centres, then the meters. End of debate"

Amazing.. I didnt realize Ed was in in charge of the tuktuk solution implementation.. I thought he merely had one opinion.

Debate open.

Posted by LivinLOS on August 6, 2013 21:40

Editor Comment:

Let's hear from anyone who goes beyond the answer ''taxi meters'' and applies some logic. It may come as a surprise to some, but having caught a taxi does not make you an expert.

gravatar

Taxi meters are the only way to sort out the mess in Phuket, and only then if the drivers are forced to use them with fear of real repercussions such as fines of a months wages or loss of licenses. They are too used to having their own way and doing as they please, commanding high fares and will probably fight tooth and nail to avoid change. A call centre is also a nice idea to reduce some of the problem of taking up all the parking spots, blocking resorts but is not good for the many tourists who will quite often have no idea where they are calling from, can you imagine for example a Russian with poor English, talking on the phone to a Thai trying to explain where in Phuket town they are. Even after all this, the prices will still be a joke unless the opportunity is taken now while the big reform is happening to scrap the old village rules and allow legal registered taxis to roam the island and pick up and drop off wherever they want. Im still a doomsayer though....never gonna happen!

Posted by Chalongian on August 6, 2013 23:21

gravatar

I took a Taxi meter to the Main Tesco Lotus from the airport. They charged me 100 baht to "get in" then 520 Baht to Tesco Lotus. A total price of 620 Baht for 30Km. That is a "legal" rip off, so don't worry about a place having Meters, they will just charge you more and more then you CAN'T negotiate!

All of it is pointless, if they continue to charge stupid prices either with or without a Meter.

Posted by Tbs on August 7, 2013 03:24

gravatar

This is very encouraging indeed. Nice to hear the vice governor not mincing words. I really hope some change does come about, there is a lot of corruption and thuggery in place. It will take a lot of work and courage to overcome it.

Posted by fw on August 7, 2013 05:56

gravatar

"sorry to burst your bubble, a call centre is a key part of any strategy on Phuket."

It's not essential forthe reasons everyone except you is saying. It will take more than a little prick to burst my bubble, pal.

Posted by eddy on August 7, 2013 06:30

Editor Comment:

First all you can talk about is ''balls'', and now you're on about ''a little prick''. You just can't seem to let go, eddy.

gravatar

ed- there's already a number to call to report taxi-meters that don't switch on the meter in phuket and guess what the call either remains unanswered or ignored.. i believe these calls go to the land transport office.. those whom you are suggesting (with the additional workload of arranging taxis to pick people up) will also begin reinforcing current laws.. i think not.. the whole reason the taxi meter system works in bkk is because the driver can pick up and drop off anywhere.. a level playing field for all

Posted by another steve on August 7, 2013 08:48

Editor Comment:

Indeed. But unless I have missed it, Bangkok taxis have never charged for a return trip that passengers don't make. The cacophony of commenters saying ''taxi meters is the answer'' fails to take account of the reality on Phuket and the need for a strategy to fix the problem. On their own, meters are not a solution. But I've yet to see one logical response that goes beyond the obvious.

gravatar

I have no idea why the Ed thinks that establishing a call center is the most important thing in fixing the taxi and taxi fare problems. If all taxis have meters and are forced to turn them on, problem solved. A call center is not practical. I can't even have furniture delivered to my house in Cherngtalay without drawing a map and having the driver call three times for directions. And I might add, my house is not hard to find, am I'm getting really good at drawing maps! The call center will not be used by tourists. They will do as we all do in Bangkok. Walk out to the street and put up your hand. Done. Simple. No phone required. No map or directions. Each cab could have a sign stating that meters are to be used. The fares should be the same as Bangkok. There, the taxis are stuck in traffic and while stationary the meters hardly move. The Phuket taxis have less traffic to deal with and should be able to make more money per day than those in Bangkok. They shouldn't have to charge more...I've been visiting and living in Asia since the mid 80's. I have taken a lot of taxis in a lot of cities, (no Ed I'm not saying I'm an expert) but I have never even thought of trying to call a taxi. In Canada and Australia you have to use a call center. But here, the system in Bangkok or Pattaya works perfectly fine. There is no need to look for a different model to follow than the one that they already established everywhere in Thailand except Phuket...

Posted by Different Tim on August 7, 2013 09:04

Editor Comment:

That's right, ''except Phuket.'' And because of the scale of the problem on Phuket, a strategy is what's required to win over the drivers. You are welcome, Different Tim, to sell the concept of meters to the drivers without a plan. Good luck. Meters also won't clear the streets of waiting taxis and tuk-tuks. A call centre can do that.

gravatar

Please clear the airport, it a foul experience, and the taxi legal or not,taking over of the entire front section of the parking lot has to stop.

The only way to control the taxis is to control the fares as now they are way out of proportion to wages. Make it less profitable and less taxis will exist naturally.
Capitalism needs control to function for good of all.

Posted by EB48 on August 7, 2013 10:05

gravatar

Why is a call centre not already operating? Its 2013!...I know PBX Systems and Cloud Voice Systems.

You can have a 50 seat Call Centre up and running with in 48 hours if need be...

There is no excuse for Phuket not having a call centre beyond been cheap, lazy and not caring about tourists. But dont worry PhuketWan, keep making excuses.

Posted by Joel M on August 7, 2013 21:51

Editor Comment:

You're right, Joel M. There is no excuse. except, perhaps, that the taxi drivers of Kata-Karon rejected the last attempt to establish one. The only people Phuketwan is forced to make excuses for are readers who have plenty of indignation but never a single practical solution to Phuket's problems.

gravatar

This is great as they say they have a deadline to comply to the new rules and that they are only allowed 3 taxi and no shacks, I passed the new Novotel Kamala today and there is half a dozen taxi setup outside and building a big shack and signage!!!

So it continues....

Posted by Resident on August 9, 2013 14:22

gravatar

I think I will bypass all this negativity and just wish the DSI and all those involved good luck and I really want to see this work.

Posted by Arthur on August 9, 2013 17:46


Friday September 19, 2014
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

FOLLOW PHUKETWAN

Facebook Twitter