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PHUKET: More than a year after the National Council for Peace and Order made a sweeping effort to remove illegal taxi stands from Phuket, the provincial government has announced a plan to establish legal taxi ranks at ten locations throughout the island.

“The move to establish the taxi stops at some schools, hospitals and police stations on the island goes hand-in-hand with our effort to support GrabTaxi, as we establish an improved taxi system on the island,” Governor Nisit Jansomwong told the Phuket Gazette today.

Unlike Uber, which was originally declared illegal by local government officers as they claimed they could ‘not understand’ the business model (story here), the launch of GrabTaxi was tabled by Governor Nisit earlier this month. Both smartphone applications allow users to hail taxis in their vicinity.

“I realize that the metered-taxi services in Phuket are a bit more expensive than Bangkok and other provinces in Thailand. However, this is a good start,” Gov Nisit said.

“Taxi drivers used to earn a lot of money; it is time for them to be more reasonable.”

The Governor hopes that the new system will allow drivers to pick up more customers and provide a better overall service.

The ten official taxi queues will be at: Bus Terminal 1; Bus Terminal 2; Phuket City Police Station; Chalong Police Station; Karon Police Station; Phuket Provincial Hall; the Phuket Land Transportation Office; Patong Hospital; Loma Park in Patong; and Rajabhat University.

“Hopefully, having taxis spread out at these locations, and the ability to hail them via the GrabTaxi app, will help reduce the number of cars on the roads and ease the traffic congestion we see daily,” Gov Nisit added.

Earlier this week, Phuket officials snapped up six metered-taxi drivers who were caught tampering with their meters by the Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO). The drivers were fined 2,000 baht each for replacing the meters that they had registered with PLTO, says PLTO Chief Teerayout Prasertphol (story here).

— Chutharat Plerin