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A motorcycle taxi uses a Phuket City footpath to beat gridlocked traffic

Motorcycle Taxis the New Transport Target

Thursday, July 11, 2013
News Analysis: Brave Enough to Change

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.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Unless you can explain how the "call centre" will stop the double charging and any other rip offs, then you should drop you crusade. As comment on before, a 'call centre" only distributes fares, hopefully fairly among taxis and tuk tuks, but even this is open to corruption.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on July 11, 2013 07:33

Editor Comment:

Read the article, Phuket_IOC, then imagine taxis operating under a call centre and picking up a new fare soon after dropping off a passenger. The result: no charge for a trip that people don't make, with existing Phuket fares cut in half. Please tell us your experiences of ''call centre corruption.''


@Ed, I am also a little confused by your call center idea, however I am not knocking it. I believe any idea is worth looking into.

But in your idea i presume the number of taxis would have to be capped in order that there would be enough fares for taxis.

Who would run the Call Center? The Government ? Or privately contracted ? And then who would oversee it so that corruption doesnt sneak in there too?

Posted by Ciaran on July 11, 2013 08:44

Editor Comment:

The Land Transport Department would set up and run the call centre. Corruption, as with everything, is a chance that has to be taken until the government adopts the Phuketwan ''corruption free Phuket'' strategy along Singapore lines. Sorting out the taxis and tuk-tuks is the short-term aim. Fewer of both would be needed.


The Phuketwan ''corruption free Phuket'' - sorry Ed but this will not happen in your or my lifetime. The entire Thai economy is based on corruption as a means to keep the wheels turning

Posted by Damien Takac on July 11, 2013 10:48

Editor Comment:

And the entire system continues because not enough people speak out or offer workable alternatives. I don't know how many years you have left, but it's better to press for change than to accept what the taxi drivers tell you to accept.


Why do you think that the government will adopt the strategy of phuketwan? They are now laughing as we speak. Don't you realize that we are in Thailand? And to make matter even worse for your case here, we are in Phuket .there is no such thing as an organized system here. They haven't even sorted out the taxi cars yet, and they are assuming they will start beginning to control the motorbikes. And please ED, don't mention Singapore and Phuket in the same sentence. There is simply no comparison between the two.

Posted by Charles on July 11, 2013 12:55

Editor Comment:

Doomsayers and taxi drivers agree that nothing is ever going to change, Charles. The Internet has some wonderful features but it also allows people with no ideas and no hope the opportunity to say nothing, time and time again, even though they have nothing to say. I suggest you go back to bed, pull the sheet up, and wait for it all to be over. Let the rest of us get on with life, please.


What do you mean with the rest of us? According to the comments here on this article, it seems you are standing alone with your dreams.

Posted by Charles on July 11, 2013 13:48

Editor Comment:

Numbers only matter to people like you and the taxi drivers, Charles. Better to dream than to think and do . . . nothing. Unless by some chance you have something to add, let's assume your next post is likely to mean . . . nothing.


Sorry Guys - if you look at the BBC website for 10 July, you will see that corruption is a growing disease in practically ALL countries worldwide including those where we were born.

It is not just Phuket - Thailand - SE Asia; it is everywhere including our so-called civilized countries.

Posted by Logic on July 11, 2013 13:59

Editor Comment:

Is there a point that comes with that, Logic?


More carefully planned regulations and controls are always welcome when it comes to creating a more systematic society.

Phuketwan's recommendations definitely seem sound, and some have in fact been implemented in other parts of Thailand. A call centre system, for instance, has in recent years created an accessible hotline for reporting a taxi in Bangkok, (it should be noted that the heavily controlled taxi fare is currently one of the cheapest in the world, and just starting last year the Land Transport Department has even gone further to make refusing to pick up passengers a violation).

Downward negotiation of the set maximum fares seems like a diplomatic compromise.

Posted by J on July 11, 2013 14:15


ED: you must understand the egg and chicken problem in the fight against corruption: the ones reigning over the society are often up to their ears in the soup and have little if any interest in changing anything while enjoying huge economical benefits. But I'm sure this means "nothing" to you...

Posted by Charles on July 11, 2013 14:18

Editor Comment:

People who do nothing and voice their support for doing nothing are almost as culpable as those who give in to corruption Charles, Don't bother with inappropriate chicken and egg nonsense. When the giving stops, so will the taking.

Unless you actually have something to add, Charles, I won't post you on this topic again.


Funny, thought motorcycle taxis were registered/licensed (They wear overlay shirts yes?).
Wonder how the numbers were arrived at? Physical wheels/head count?

Not sure how a call centre in Phuket will be value add..frickin expensive deployment and maintenance of hardware and software, multi lingual operators considering the current tourist demographics? in vehicle GPS and metering equipment etc.

Not convinced that taxi fares from airports are actually considered that exorbitant by tourists, if one looks at the average tourist having paid airfare in the thousands; probably considers the taxi as part of the their vacation travel expense?

Not sure many tourists anyplace use a call centre number . . . be interesting to see the numbers on that one? Think most tourists use the services of hotels to call cabs. Business people and residences in a metropolis would use of course.

Call centre auto queuing software should, in theory. eliminate possible "favoritism" by operators.
Most economical, speedy solution would be to "share" an existing taxi call centre ie in BKK.not hard, mostly software changes,could be up and running in a month? If ineffective nothing lost?

Posted by David on July 12, 2013 06:12

Editor Comment:

Most tourists and residents would, i suspect, prefer not to pay twice what they should pay for a journey they don't make. Saying ''Not convinced that taxi fares from airports are actually considered that exorbitant by tourists'' seems to me to be wildly unscientific and not based on the facts or human nature. The minute you tell them that they are paying for a journey they don't make, you will find out the truth. The taxi experience at the airport should begin as it does in Bangkok and elsewhere with a queue system that does away with the present disorder. People usually quickly copy essential telephone numbers into their mobiles.


Nah! you're right,never thought my opinion scientific and never could understand human
I think the basic premise re "journeys they didn't make" as applied to Phuket fares may be somewhat flawed by the continual comparison with BKK pricing (apparently the least expensive in the world?)
Not many places in the world where you can get a 1hr+ cab ride from the airport for 23 bucks (often 2-4 people don't forget)....
Think if I was a cabbie who was forced to put a load of expensive electronics in my vehicle I would amortize the cost through the customers.
"oh goodie when I get to x address I have a fare waiting for me!" ..though imaginative, is idealistic,assumptive and unscientific methinks.
Would not hold my breath with any expectation that fares will be significantly reduced..if all perceived corrupt practices went away tomorrow methinks there would be other taxes/fees/costs or similar excuses to make up the lost "revenue".
Just my "unscientific" opinion.

Posted by David on July 12, 2013 07:17

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