Over 100 public transport operators, including metered taxi drivers, green plate taxis, and passenger van drivers, gathered at Phuket Provincial Hall to express their formal complaints against illegal private car services operating through taxi apps on the island. The operators are demanding that the Phuket provincial government take stronger action to confront this issue.
The complaints were received by Phuket Vice Governor Amnuay Pinsuwan at the provincial Ombudsman’s Office. The taxi driver representatives, led by Manatsanan Na Thalang, highlighted the primary grievance of personal cars being used as taxis, which is a clear violation of the Land Transport Act (1979). Manatsanan emphasized that legal taxi operators are suffering due to these illegal activities and called for the Phuket Governor to intervene by instructing the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) to take action.
Kornphithak Asanasuwan, representing the PLTO, defended the actions taken by the office against illegal taxi operators, stating that every issue brought up by taxi drivers has been addressed and resolved. He also mentioned that the Department of Land Transport has been made aware of registration issues and the high number of cars being used as taxis in Phuket. However, Kornphithak admitted that there have been instances of people using fake stickers to appear as legal taxi app vehicles.
According to PLTO official statistics, as of August 31, there are 4,300 green plate taxis, 6,800 ‘non-regular buses, 600 metered taxis, 514 tuk-tuks, and 1,100 private vehicles licensed to provide taxi services through apps in Phuket. Kornphithak revealed that the provincial transportation office has received over 1,000 complaints about Phuket taxis in the last fiscal year, resulting in fines of 2,000 baht and 90-day suspensions of driver’s licenses in each case.
In a separate meeting at the PLTO offices, taxi drivers were reminded of acceptable behavior ahead of the upcoming tourism high season. Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Jirasak Siemsak emphasized that public transport vehicles must be alcohol-free and weapons-free to build confidence in tourism. He further urged strict supervision over public transport operators to ensure they interact politely with passengers.
With the expected influx of tourists to Phuket, Ratchadaphon Oin of the Phuket Tourism and Sports Office mentioned that more than 10 million tourists are expected to visit this year, similar to pre-pandemic levels. To prepare for this, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has created a guide on dos and don’ts when traveling in Phuket. The guide can be accessed via a QR Code, which will be shared with bus operators and tourism operators to ensure that tourists have a pleasant experience.
PLTO Chief Adcha Buachan reassured that the PLTO will closely monitor public transport vehicles and drivers to ensure proper registration.
The transport drivers present at the meeting expressed their readiness to comply with the guidelines specified by government agencies.