“Some of the drivers only want to take passengers to or from the airport or will take only foreigner customers,” Gov Nisit Jansomwong explained to the press earlier this week.
The impact has seen the 137 taxis registered on the GrabTaxi service to operate in Phuket downscaled to an active fleet of only about 40 taxis actually in service on the island, he added.
“GrabTaxi drivers must serve all customers, including short-distance fares, such as from Patong to Rawai,” Governor Nisit warned.
Any driver found refusing fares, cheating customers or otherwise bringing the metered-taxi service into disrepute will be fined B5,000 the first time and B10,000 the second time.
“The third time they will be fired,” Gov Nisit said plainly.
The governor urged any people with complaints about the service or driver misconduct to call the government taxi-complaint hotline 1584. Suggestions for the service were welcome, too, he added.
However, Gov Nisit admitted that some of the drivers may be not so familiar to the new GrabTaxi hailing system.
“The company will hold another free training course for these drivers very soon,” he said.
Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO) Chief Teerayuth Prasertphol urged people to use GrabTaxi as a way to revolutionise the taxi industry in Phuket.
“By using this metered-taxi hailing system, we can help stop passengers from being cheated by drivers or being unable to find a taxi in Phuket to take them where they want to go,” he said.
Gov Nisit chimed in that he personally endorses, and uses, the service.
“I use this app. Right now, I can see there are 22 taxis in service,” he said.
“I recently hailed a taxi to take me from the Phuket Damrongtham Center [at Provincial Hall] to Phuket Airport. It showed me the distance of 30.37 km. The cost was about B414.”
Efforts are underway to expand the GrabTaxi fleet by including non-metered taxis registered with “green license plates”, Gov Nisit added.
“Green plate taxi drivers are invited to join GrabTaxi to offer high-quality taxi services,” he said, adding that if the project gains traction, the service will be branded as “GrabCar”.
“This service will divided into two categories. Premium GrabCar service will provide luxury cars and Eco GrabCar services will be less luxury, but still very comfortable,” he said.