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Legal taxi app drivers now allowed to pick passengers at Phuket Airport


All drivers working through legally registered ride-hailing apps will be allowed to pick passengers up at Phuket Airport from Friday, September 1. The Phuket News reports that the policy about-face was confirmed in a Facebook post from the Phuket Info Centre, which operates under the Ministry of the Interior.

However, the centre added that “specific regulations and designated zones” will apply, although there was no further information on what that will look like.

Arriving passengers, trying to avoid the taxi cabal at the Phuket Airport, resorted to using ride-hailing apps but were forced to drag their luggage across the airport car park and meet their ride outside the airport property. Airport officials, in turn, tried to make it more difficult by cording off all the parking areas along the road just outside the airport.

The new policy should put an end to an ongoing campaign by the Phuket Land Transport Office, with police cooperation, targeting app-based taxi drivers described as “illegal”. There have been numerous arrests of such drivers at the airport, as part of a concerted campaign that began in February, before suddenly going quiet in the last month or so.

Phuket’s taxi and tuk tuk ‘gangs’ and the airport-sanctioned taxi cabal have been a constant source of complaints and nuisance for decades, making the trip from the airport to their accommodation many times more expensive than a similar trip anywhere else in Thailand – a bad first, and usually last, impression of their trip to the island.

Last month, the airport’s general manager, Monchai Tanode, announced that Phuket Airport would create an “all taxi” area, but added that this wouldn’t be operational until 2024. At the time, AoT Phuket itself didn’t issue a public statement on the matter, but Monchai’s comments were shared by Move Forward MP Somchart Techathavorncharoen.

Two other AoT airports in Thailand – Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi – have a well organised and efficient taxi service provided for passengers, at metered rates. In contrast, it’s very, very difficult to find a taxi driver based at Phuket airport prepared to use their taxi meter, or a taxi with a meter that actually works.

Somchart also shared a revised fare structure for ride-hailing apps last week. The updated rates and service charges introduced by the Ministry of Transport are seen as an acknowledgement of the growing taxi app sector and the wider choice now available to passengers.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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