New set tuk tuk fares 'still too high'
Tuesday 1 March 2011, 10:16AM
Fifteen per cent of German tourists complain about the high taxi and tuk tuk fares in Phuket and say they won’t return to the island, according to German Honorary Consul Dirk Naumann.
At a meeting on Monday (February 21) between Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradecha and locally-based consuls, Mr Naumann said that he was disappointed that the new standard fares set by a provincial committee are so high.
The [new] fares from Patong to Phuket Airport are three times the price of an equivalent taxi ride in Bangkok, he said. For short journeys the difference is even greater. “With the small engine and no air conditioning, how come the fares [for short distances] are six times more expensive than the metre-taxis in Bangkok?’’ he asked
Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukkaban told Mr Naumann that the fares varied because taxis in Bangkok were using LPG gas which cost them only B12 a kilogram while Phuket taxis use gasoline, for which the price is more than 30 baht a litre.
Currently the maximum tuk tuk fare for any destination within Patong is B200 for four people and B50 per additional passenger. The fare from Patong to any other destination starts from B300, rising to a maximum of 1,000 baht for one-way trips.
The committee also set specific round-trip fares for 43 destinations. For example: Patong to Phuket International Airport is 800 baht one-way and 1,500 baht return, while a ride from Patong to the JW Marriott Resort costs 1,000 baht one-way and 1,900 baht return.
Gov Tri said the new fares will be applied for three months as a trial and officials will gauge feedback. “If there are still complaints that the fares are too expensive, the committee will adjust them to meet everyone’s satisfaction.’’
Mr Naumann was not satisfied. He insisted that the set fares were simply too expensive. Even when compared with his own country, Germany, where the cost of living is much higher than in Phuket, he said, German taxi service is better value as they use Mercedes Benz vehicles.
“I have surveyed 100 German tourists in Phuket, and 15% said that they won’t come back to Phuket anymore due to the high cost of Phuket taxi services,” Mr Naumann said.
Referring to the difference between Phuket and Bangkok fares, he added, “The cost of living in Phuket is only 22 per cent higher than Bangkok, which is not much.’’
Governor Tri reiterated that the standard for taxi fares are a first step to try to help reducing the gap between drivers’ and passengers’ expectations.
He added that members of the Patong Taxi Federation and taxi drivers have accepted the new set fares and the province has distributed the details in Thai and English to dozens of places including tuk-tuk and taxi ranks, rental car agents, hotels and travel agents.