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Phuket's Transport Director Kanok Siripanichkoon says a probe is coming

Phuket Transport Wins Probe as Former PM Visits

Friday, January 22, 2010
Phuketwan News and Analysis

AN INVESTIGATION is to be made into Phuket's future public transport needs at a cost of 500,000 baht, the island's Transport Director, Kanok Siripanichkoon, revealed yesterday.

He gave Phuketwan a full account of the number of tuk-tuks and taxis on Phuket . . . and an explanation of the financial pressures now coming to bear on some drivers.

Tuk-tuk and taxi alternatives are expected to be discussed today when the first International Conference of the Society for Transportation and Traffic meets on Phuket, with highly regarded former Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai set to head discussions.

Other meetings are taking place amid rising concern about the island's future transport needs.

Ten years into the 21st Century, Thailand's prime island tourist destination retains a system based on traditional village zones. Excessive fares, unrivalled in Asia, have become a tourism turn-off.

Khun Kanok said yesterday that one option that the 500,000 baht investigation would be looking at closely was a light-rail system. Other ideas would also be examined.

Here's his official guide to Phuket's current transport:

Tuk-tuks: side-entrance 519, rear-entrance 643.


Mai Khao Sakool: 40 mini-buses, 20 saloon cars.

Airport Limousine and Business Services Cooperative: 125 saloon cars, 25 MU-7 seven-seaters

Metered Taxis: 68

Buses: Including seung taews, vehicles of all kinds: 2730

Resort buses: 200

Illegal taxis at the airport: About 200

''I can't imagine how many illegal vehicles are operating on the whole island,'' Khun Kanok said.

Colonel Grissak Songmoonnark, police chief for Patong, where most of the tuk-tuks are based, recently told Phuketwan ''Two hundred tuk-tuks would be enough for the whole island.

''Problems arise because of the rivalry between the tuk-tuk groups, which means they often cannot make pick-ups so return trips are usually made empty.

''The return trip empty is built in to the price. It should be 150 baht to travel from Karon to Patong, but because the driver has to return empty, he charges 300 baht.''

Internet news and chat sites are being filled with criticism of the high fares charged by Phuket's tuk-tuks and taxis, yet at the same time the drivers say they are having problems making ends meet.

This appears to be for two reasons:

..the number of drivers is increasing, even though tourists are spending less;

..other organisations and individuals with a vested interest in tuk-tuks and taxis continue to take their cut.

Khun Kanok estimated the cost of converting any vehicle to a taxi-meter vehicle at 100,000 baht. This includes the meter and a ''Meter-Taxi'' sign, plus a repaint to the existing colors.

By his reckoning, the average Phuket airport taxi visited the airport and picked up six fares a day in high season, and two or perhaps three in low season, if they were lucky.

Drivers have to make extra in the high season to sustain themselves and meet their outgoings in the low season.

Khun Kanok said the average limo driver had monthly expenses of a 10,000 baht repayment on his vehicle, a 16,450 baht payment to Airports of Thailand as a rental fee, petrol costs of 30,000 baht (1000 baht a day) and 9000 baht for food (300 baht a day).

This meant each driver had to make about 65,400 a month simply to break even. Similar pressures applied to tuk-tuk drivers.

In both cases, the excessive costs are borne by their tourist customers, and Thailand's tourism reputation suffers as a consequence.

''The problem for Phuket is the people who control these vehicles,'' he said. ''They are above the law. According to the law, taxis and tuk-tuks can pick up customers on Phuket anywhere, any time.

''In Phuket, it doesn't work like that. What does this mean? The island needs a step-by-step approach to improve services. If everybody co-operates, it can work.''

Many tourists now book packages in advance to avoid the high cost of airport taxis, and walk or find alternatives to hiring tuk-tuks.

Airport drivers are calling for a reduction in AoT rent and Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob is looking at suggestions. He has said he will respond next week.

At the same time, he has suggested trialling meters in tuk-tuks, with a flag-fall of 200 baht, around the Karon and Kata regions.

What's plain, though, is that as Phuketwan has proposed, Phuket desperately needs a public transport strategy. That can only come at the initiative of Thailand's national government.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


200 baht to get in a tuk-tuk... what a joke !!!!

Posted by the menace on January 22, 2010 08:20


I hope that politicians remember that there are also Thais living on this Island and they need to have affordable public transport system as well, not something that foreigners and only afford. Two different prices for foreigners and locals is an unacceptable way to go.

Posted by Jimbo on January 22, 2010 09:31


Taxi drivers spend 300.= per day on meals? must include the Lao then. I can eat far cheaper and nutritious meals for 1/2 or 150.= per day

Posted by Ian on January 22, 2010 11:58


Surely the petrol costs are a variable cost depending on how busy they are. 300 baht a day for food!

Posted by Benjie on January 22, 2010 12:42


if there are 150 vehicles officially at the airport that mean that Phuket airport makes 29,610,000.00 baht a year from airport rental alone, should not that fee be cut down?

I am in Singapore at the moment and you pay an extra 3 dollars (70 baht) if you take an airport from the taxi and fees start at 2 dollars (50) from the moment you get in an air conditioned metered taxi. The cost of living in Singapore is way more than in Phuket, biggest difference NO CORRUPTION its a simple as that.

Petrol cost also are only included when you have a fare so presumably its covered in the fare

Posted by michael on January 22, 2010 16:18


9000 baht on food . That is more than a police officer or a teacher earns a month . should this not say 9000 baht a month for booze, as most of the drivers drink.

Posted by Lord Jim on January 22, 2010 16:30


How can one survive with the limit wage? Why does he include food? They have to buy inside the airport? Every worker in the airport needs 9.000 Baht food money? This just kill the whole thing. You cannot take it seriously.

Also the gasoline is as Benjie sad a variable cost and it depends how often they go out and make money. So that you cannot count also as fixed costs. Nobody care for business one o one?

Metering a car for 100.000 Baht? Ok, maybe for one car. But not if you change 200 cars. Otherwise ask a company from Bangkok or Singapore. And if you change them PLEASE electrify them.

Phuket goes green. Think of the change of noise at the beach roads. The high potential in marketing the island. That would be an excuse for a little higher pricing than Bangkok. That is win-win-win.

The illegal driver show very clear, that this market is overpriced and therefore lucrative. How many illegals pay a "fee", so they can work at the airport? A safety zone like the airport should make it super easy for willing enforcers to spot illegal taxis nearly immediately.

Everything else is a lie. Try to park on a taxi parking place at a Chinese or European airport. Not one minute and the police show up.

A lot of the hotels will be happy not to have to invest in the transport business, but they are forced to, because otherwise they lose guests to other destinations.

All in all the mess and chaos at the Phuket Airport parking is a disgrace.

Posted by Lena on January 22, 2010 17:00


WOW you mean normal loving, happy jai and smiling Thais live on Phuket Island, GOOD GRIEF and I thought I was on drugs.

Posted by Anonony on January 22, 2010 19:04


Taxi flagfall is much less, why should a tuk tuk be higher? A taxi has aircon and seatbelts, what extras do the tuk tuks have for that premium?
Every tuk tuk needs a licence. Stop giving out the licences - simple!

Posted by Peter on January 22, 2010 21:19

Wednesday July 24, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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