Well, of course they will protest. Phuket’s taxi cabals have long protected the gangs and rackets that have trashed the island’s transport reputation for decades. This latest proposal for some competition is no different.
Phuket taxi and tuk-tuk drivers are protesting against plans for a new “baht bus” circular service for Patong. The Phuket News reports that around 50 drivers gathered at the Patong Municipality officers on Monday, October 31.
They were met by Patong Mayor, Chalermsak Maneesri, and Move Forward MP, Chalermpong Saengdee, along with a number of officials from Patong City Council. Standing by were officers from Patong Police.
Chalermsak has criticised the proposed baht bus plans, saying the service will have a negative affect on local taxi drivers. The mayor says there has been no information from the Phuket Provincial Transport Office, adding that he’d be happy to be an intermediary between the PPTO and taxi drivers.
“I understand the problems and sufferings of professional groups very well. Today I am happy and ready to provide assistance by being the intermediary in coordinating with the Phuket Provincial Transport Office to inquire about details, facts and continue to solve problems.”
Meanwhile, Chalermpong, an MP for Phuket district 2, has called for the baht bus plans to be put on hold. The MP says the project risks damaging the livelihoods of at least 200 drivers in Patong, whose views have never been sought or taken into consideration.
“If the Phuket Land Transport Office launches this project, it is expected that such groups will become unemployed and suffer a lack of income to make a living and support their families, which will cause great damage to those who are engaged in providing transport services in Patong.”
On October 17, the PLTO posted 3 notices, announcing that it was accepting applications from potential bus service providers across 3 different routes. Two notices concerned circular routes in Patong, while the third related to a service linking Patong and the old bus station on Phang Nga Road in Phuket Town.
The baht bus concept has been a winner with tourists in places like Pattaya where a regular fleet services a number of routes and allow passengers to hop on and off the ‘bus’ for 10 baht per ride.
SOURCE: The Phuket News