333 at the beach
333 at the beach Zonezi Properties British International School, Phuket
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search

Bolt, InDriver still illegal, say Phuket officials

Bolt, InDriver still illegal, say Phuket officials

PHUKET: Popular ride-sharing apps Bolt and InDriver are still illegal in Thailand, the Phuket Info Center (PIC) reminded island residents today (Mar 27).

By The Phuket News

Monday 27 March 2023, 06:57PM

PIC, operated under the Phuket office of the Ministry of Interior, issued the reminder via a notice listing the ride-sharing apps approved by the Department of Land Transport.

Listed as “Applications Certificated by Department of Land Transport” were Hello Phuket, Grab, Robinhood, bonku, CABB and the AirAsia Super App.

Bolt and InDriver, both popular in Phuket, were the only apps listed under “Applications Uncertificated by Department of Land Transport”.

Of note, Bolt launched in Thailand in 2020.


The notice today follows nearly two months of a crackdown on illegal taxi drivers by the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO). However, since the crackdown was launched on Feb 3, following a protest by ‘green licence plate’ Phuket taxi drivers, the PLTO has not mentioned specifically which ‘taxi apps’ were legal or illegal.

The PLTO’s repeated vague mantra throughout the campaign has been to crackdown on “illegal taxi drivers”, no matter what the illegality may be. Initially, that included taxis not registered in Phuket, though by Feb 14 the PLTO itself admitted ‒ only by posting the actual laws ‒ that taxis from Bangkok, Songkhla and other selected areas were allowed to operate as taxis outside their province of registration.

Today, PLTO Chief Adcha Buachan repeated that mantra when questioned whether any action were to be taken regarding Phuket taxi drivers interfering with and preventing a Bangkok-registered taxi from legally picking up passengers at Central Festival Phuket on Friday (Mar 24).

Mr Adcha told The Phuket News today, just as already widely reported, that PLTO officers had brought the “parties involved” together to discuss the incident and that the situation had been resolved.

Mr Adcha did confirm that the PLTO officers had visited the taxi drivers stationed at the popular Central Festival shopping mall to explain that legally registered taxis from Bangkok were fully permitted by law to pick up passengers in Phuket and in other provinces.

“This is the information that the taxis at Central [Phuket] misunderstood, but we have already visited them and clarified the law to them,” he said.

Mr Adcha made no mention of any action against the Phuket taxi drivers at Central Festival for illegally preventing a fully legal taxi driver from freely conducting business, as empowered by law ‒ despite the PLTO itself for two months issuing fines and suspending the driver’s licence of non-Phuket taxi drivers deemed to be ‘illegal’. 

Mr Adcha, now four days after the Central Festival incident and after his own officers have intervened in the matter, today said he was still unsure whether the driver of the Bangkok-registered taxi at Central Festival was working using an illegal application.

Regardless, he was adamant his officers were to pursue the matter. “The PLTO and Wichit Police will call both parties to investigate whether the Bangkok taxi used a taxi application or not,” Mr Adcha said.

Laguna Phuket 2023

“He [the Bangkok taxi driver] said that he does not work in Phuket, but he had driven to Phuket to stay at his wife’s house and he had some spare time so he accepted customers here,” Mr Adcha said. 

What relevance the Bangkok taxi driver’s reason for coming to Phuket had on whether or not he is legally allowed to operate on the island was not explained.

“We have not seized anyone’s driver’s licence over the incident yet. However, we are gathering information and if anyone is found guilty, they will be punished,” Mr Adcha added.


Management at Central Festival have yet to issue a public statement about the taxi driver incident on Friday, but The Phuket News was told today that the operators of the mall were taking the issue seriously.

“The taxi operators stationed at Central Festival do not rent the space for their business. Central lets them stay there for free under the condition that they will take care of the tourists. It is what Central wanted to do for the community.

“However, after the incident, Central has already given them a warning and told them that if they behave this way, they cannot stay on Central’s premises,” said one representative.

Asked specifically whether any legal taxis were allowed to pick up passengers from Central Festival, the representative said, “Yes, as long as the taxi is legal and matches Phuket regulations. Central has already emphasised this to the taxis in our areas about this.”


PLTO officers will be deployed to what Mr Adcha called ‘risk areas’ to monitor what he called ‘black taxis’ - a derisive moniker used for years by legally registered Phuket taxi drivers to describe people using private cars to work illegally as taxi drivers. 

“The inspectors will make an understanding with the local taxis about the law that metered taxis can pick up customers in the local area,” Mr Adcha said.

For the app-based taxis ‒ which Mr Adcha today called ‘black plate taxis’, regardless of whether the taxi drivers were working legally or illegally ‒ he said that the PLTO now had a large stock of new stickers to attach to app-based taxis “to show that they are legally registered taxis operating via applications”.

“The PLTO already had some stickers made, but we made bigger ones to make it clearer to see and we have already called the app-based taxi drivers to change to the new stickers,” he said.

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

* (Not Hotmail/Outlook)

Nasa12 | 28 March 2023 - 18:14:45

We are in Phuketland, which has its own rules at all levels.  The government in Bangkok has no power at all over Phuketland.

Capricornball | 28 March 2023 - 18:10:47

Another instance of the inmates running the asylum. Impotent governance allows the Mafia to call the shots while the crooked police and cartels continue to blacken the eyes of Phuket on the world stage. This government has zero concern for tourists or members of the community. with all allegiance going to the criminal thugs. Too bad Army LtGen Santi  can't let the thugs know whos in charge.

solar_serfer | 28 March 2023 - 14:54:07

the "legal" taxis are the real threat to traffic, as they are driving recklessly and dangerously. will report right away to Police next time kap.These gangsters need to be taken off the roads of Phuket long time before already. 

Kurt | 28 March 2023 - 10:32:12

Why the Phuketians are never seen having taxi rides like in BKK, KUL, and S'pore? Why the ordinairy Thai on Phuket 'must' sometimes travel with 3 or even 4 persons on a motorbike to go somewhere because there is no Phuket all around taxi infra structure? Why are PLTO and Phuket transport cartels shi...ng on their own Thai 'brothers and sisters' in depriving them what we call no...

Kurt | 28 March 2023 - 09:36:36

The Phuket PLTO corruption stares you full in the face. And that mr adcha has no accurate knowledge of the Thai transport sector laws is a shame. he gets not further than a bit talking around the bush an making 'new stickers'.  Quite a laugh.

JohnC | 28 March 2023 - 08:52:52

The never ending story of the taxi thugs and their protector the PLTO. 
Should look more in to Mr Adcha's financial situation and reveal what eveyone already knows to be true; lots of unexplained money well above his government salary. "Black taxi" is a far better moniker for those who are supposedly legal according to his mantra.

JSombra | 27 March 2023 - 21:14:10

Really time for everyone in the PLTO to be replaced, and I do mean everyone. They are little more than the "Taxi mafia" government front. If it was Bangkok they would have been replaced  years ago...around the time they made official taxi rates 10 times the rates in Bangkok...and even then good luck getting any taxis at those rates (50b for first 2 km) when no taxi will move for less tha...


Have a news tip-off? Click here


Phuket community
Five vehicles damaged in Phuket wet road crash

Well car nr 2-3-4 and 5 tailgated, so this 4 cars have wrong in this accident. ...(Read More)

Hospitals inundated as norovirus infections rise

We should take this island over- do funder and buy it. . Cannot stand to see how it is being abused ...(Read More)

Five vehicles damaged in Phuket wet road crash

Maybe "initiated by one vehicle tailgating", but was followed by at least four other moron...(Read More)

Phuket hits last lap in bid for Expo 2028

@DeK. I live here because there are many benefits. I complain because things could be solved by th...(Read More)

Phuket people invited to greet King and Queen of Thailand

Go back to sleep under your bridge for a few more hours, your hangover appears far worse than normal...(Read More)

Phuket police reunites tourist with lost wife

I was having breakfast at the Marriot in Nai Yang this morning, and I overheard this guy named Ivan ...(Read More)

Phuket businesses to pitch tourism development proposals to Move Forward

Great photo accompanying the story, PN. Ostensibly showing a cruise ship loaded with tourists visiti...(Read More)

Hospitals inundated as norovirus infections rise

As PPHO, + of course Governor for photo session, know so well to explain about gastrointestinal infe...(Read More)

Phuket hits last lap in bid for Expo 2028

@old guy Why you keep living here if everything is such a mess ? ...(Read More)

Lifeguards issue jellyfish warning

As pointed out, the bluebottle is not a jellyfish, although it loosely fits the common language desc...(Read More)