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Phuket Tuk-Tuk Reform Strategy  Will Push for Call Centres

Phuket Tuk-Tuk Reform Strategy Will Push for Call Centres

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
PHUKET: The plan for resolving the tuk-tuk issue on Phuket involves establishing a central call centre or call centres on Phuket's holiday west coast, Phuketwan has learned.

Proposals for reforms are likely to be discussed at the highest level with tuk-tuk drivers' leaders before Thailand's Cabinet meets on Phuket in March.

Tuk-tuks are one of the issues on Phuket for which resolutions will be sought before Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her ministers visit Phuket for two days of intense top-level talks.

The tuk-tuk plan, as Phuketwan understands it, will be to establish a call centre or call centres to clear the main streets of Karon-Kata and Patong of tuk-tuks that now occupy hundreds of premium parking spots.

Patong and Karon-Kata are Phuket's most popular tourist destinations. However, the parked tuk-tuks make some narrow streets even narrower and are a source of constant aggrevation among local residents and tourists who struggle to find parking.

Tuk-tuk drivers at first agreed to explore the establishment of a central call centre in Karon last year but quickly turned their backs on the concept.

Authorities are known to view establishment of a call centre or call centres as a logical step towards a modern, efficient tuk-tuk and taxi system for all of Phuket.

A call centre or centres would also oblige tuk-tuk drivers to abandon the spots they currently occupy at the entrances to many of Phuket's resorts. At times, drivers have used their ability to block entrances to enforce their will.

The new strategy would mean that tuk-tuks would wait at a central parking spot - probably in the case of Karon-Kata the car park alongside the Karon Municipal offices - and proceed to pick up fares as called in on a needs basis by resorts or restaurants.

Drivers on Phuket involved in the new system would have consumer service training and be required to wear uniforms.

Although the authorities are keen to have the issue resolved by negotiation and to include Phuket's present tuk-tuk drivers, radical alternatives are likely to be considered if the drivers do not agree to the move.

Phuketwan has learned that one alternative already being talked about is to bring in 200 new tuk-tuks with 200 new drivers to establish a call centre system that would lock out the present tuk-tuk drivers.

Such a move is only likely in the event of local drivers failing to see the need for modern reforms in standards and service to ensure Phuket's long-term future as a desirable tourist destination.

The present tuk-tuk and ''local taxi'' system has never been challenged.

In effect it is a coastal village system that protects the interests of local drivers at the expense of residents and tourists and it has never shown signs of being adapted to the needs of the 21st century.

Driving a tuk-tuk or a ''local taxi'' on Phuket is appealing because it requires little skill and just one or two fares a day to bring an income to rival that of university graduates.

The dominance of the drivers in maintaining high fares and a ''jobs for the boys'' outlook down the decades has left Phuket without an adequate public transport system.

The result is that residents and tourists are forced to use excessive numbers of motorcycles. This contributes to needless road deaths and injuries, overloaded public hospitals and excessive traffic on congested roads.

Locals are unable to afford to use tuk-tuks because the fares are at least six times those of similar vehicles in Bangkok.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Very true, keep on the good work describing this horrible system.
It is the only way to change things, even I doubt that it ever will happen, which is very strange since the present state make a lot of people suffer.
Question of who is in charge. Isn't it?

Posted by Sherlock on February 14, 2012 12:52


This all looks very interesting and anxious to see how the current cartel will accept these changes, or will they just be forced to.

Posted by Zig on February 14, 2012 13:00


"The tuk-tuk plan, as Phuketwan understands it, will be to establish a call centre or call centres to clear the main streets of Karon-Kata and Patong of tuk-tuks that now occupy hundreds of premium parking spots".

Tuk-tuk drivers work as independent business-people and will never give up their parking in prime areas such as front beaches or entrances for hotels.

They do not make money only with tuk-tuk fares but they make much more money by providing full travel services to foreigners by working as tour guides and/or working as local travel agents which is illegal such as:

- Selling tours by renting their tuk-tuk for half-day or full-day tours around Phuket.

- Collecting commissions when dropping customers at restaurants, jewelry shops, elephant camps, dive shops, tailor shops, etc....

- Rent family's motorcycles and cars.

- Get commission to find alternative room, guest-house, hotel or house at potential customers.



Posted by Whistle-Blower on February 14, 2012 13:10


One word I see absent from the article is the concept of "meters". Until arbitrary and cartel / monopolistic pricing is removed from the process the core problem remains.

Also another area skipped is to whom it is beneficial to have private armies of tuktuks under the banner (and membership fees) of 'federations'.

Posted by LivinLOS on February 14, 2012 13:29


So what will be the surcharge for calling the call centre?

All great intentions to alleviate the traffic problem. What ever happen to enforcing the no parking on the beach road? I believe the public was told about that already.

For starters reversing the one way system would benefit traffic flow immediately. Again I believe the public was told that was going to be implemented after last years high season.

Still the root of the problem is pricing and public transport? Until that is put into action nothing really is going to be solved. Anyone that has lived on this island for some substantial time knows this.

And Ed. I have no faith/confidence at all in the Thai leadership on this island. Because I have been told promises and changes so many times for so many years. When action starts and followed thru then I and many others will start to gain confidence.

An analogy is. Do you go back to the same restaurant that serves bad food, bad service and over priced. And then being told we are making changes and it will be better. ED How many times will you go to that restaurant?

Posted by john s on February 14, 2012 15:16

Editor Comment:

I don't think that's a fair analogy, john s. Most people have a good holiday on Phuket but a growing proportion have bad experiences with transport. People don't go back to bad restaurants, even if the waitresses are gorgeous.


I just try to imagine the situation, if a tourist from a big eastern european country tires to phone to the Call Center and order a Tuk-Tuk to pick him/her up somewhere in the middle of nowhere...

How many languages are spoken in this Call Center? I guess two, southern Thai and Isaan :-(

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on February 14, 2012 15:25

Editor Comment:

There are unlikely to be pick-ups in the middle of nowhere for some time, Fritz.


Good idea, 200 new yuk tuks with 200 new drivers. (Aren't there 200 on the corners around Jungceylon alone?) But let's say numbers are met with numbers, then that idea that only the army can sort out Phuket will be relevant. (But won't all the soldiers be in their own yuk tuks - Sr Sgt Maj's in the old ones, PFC's in the new?

Posted by juswunderin on February 14, 2012 17:17


Soon you will see who wears the pants around phuket. They cannot and will not be stopped. you will see!

Posted by poppops on February 14, 2012 17:51


There is only one solution to the problem no new Tuk-Tuks account for all Tuk-Tuks allowed in each village or Zone throughout the island (Zoning) and slowly retire Tuk-Tuks over time until the number is low enough that they can make a good living even with outstanding public transportation and keep the number low through control of tags for each zone on Phuket. Then you can use things like call centers because they will still make good money. Plus you can add good public transport without a fight.

Posted by mike on February 14, 2012 20:31


The best solution for the tourists and the traffic situation is small busses, a la pattaya, that goes in, for example, 2 lines. Beachroad, rat u thit and Nanai 2, rat u thit.Prices 15 to 20 bath. Tuk tuks can operate the surrounding big Hotel complexes, with overlooking call centras checking them, and of course no more then 100 bath charge a trip, if the Hotells not want shuttle themselves .

To serve tourist between beaches or touristspots is fixed prices, well shown, perfect.Prices that are not 100 times them in bangkok Why not the same prices, by the way.

Posted by One Expat 11 years on February 14, 2012 20:44


Great Idea Mike but do they ever listen here to great ideas from the likes of us NO mate is the answer the local government transport official who's name I've forgot again came up with a great plan for a transport solution but oh no were getting a bloody stupid tunnel that will cost billions, when his great plan only costs millions and could be up and running in no time .My wife was down patong beach today and heard these tuk-tuk gentlemen of the road talking to a large western tourist family as she put it like they were dogs not the land of smiles just some Isann slob [her words and she's a Thai] with a attitude and manner that will no doubt cause this family to avoid patong,phuket and Thailand when next they make travel plans, the thing is the vast amount of these morons have no stake in the future of phuket they pack up their kit and head off to their villages on the Thai mainland when they've driven off forgive the pun the big spending tourists but were the ones left with worthless businesses and a ghost town only fit for low end package companies . Issue tuk-tuk operator licences to phuket island people say those families with over 30 years and property here with a stake in it's future and not just the usual suspects from certain families put all the local applicants names in a big fish bowl and draw out the lucky winners supervised by a honest trustworthy group of non island peopple like the consoles say, set the amount to a sensible sustainable number issue plates,test the drivers and the vehicles make full passenger insurance mandatory give them meters with a fare rate not some farcical idiots idea of a fare colour code the tuk-tuks so their area won't be overwhelmed by outsiders and use the laws to arrest and fine the drivers of black cabs and cease their vehicles if they are caught operating on the island as they are breaking the laws of Thailand and the last time I checked phuket is covered by Thai law not tuk-tuk/black cab syndicate law. Job done and we and the tourists can all live happily ever after over to you governor and Mayor

Posted by Scunner on February 15, 2012 01:17


Bring it on. It would open up the streets. Let's hope it happens, then get rid of the jet skiis.

Posted by chaseone on February 15, 2012 06:32


Call center is so 1980'ies. Don't any local politician have any brains? In this iPad time, we need to implement our Taxi application which will pair a taxi driver (licensed) with a tourist wanting to go from A to B. The application has already a payment and meter solution built in, so all the needless scams will be over before they are thought about. Lets see some real innovation for transportation for Phuket. Our solution can be up and running in 2 days, but Phuket time might be 2 years!! We ask the Governor to make some strategic decisions! Are you ready?????

Posted by Tuk-tuk nevermore! on February 22, 2012 15:45

Wednesday September 22, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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