Metered-taxi operators want unsanctioned cabs curbed in drive for customers

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The two companies officially licensed to operate metered taxis in Pattaya want government officials to crack down on unsanctioned competitors to help boost the image of public transport in the city.

Udomdath Transport Ltd. Part. and Pattaya Taxi Cooperative Ltd. which operate the yellow-and-blue taxis licensed by the Department of Land Transport, Chonburi, say the green-and-yellow, pink and yellow vehicles soliciting customers are operating without the blessing of city hall. They are calling the Chonburi Land Transport Department to work with the Pattaya Police to crack down on the rogue companies.

Tawat Puekboon-nark, president of the Pattaya Transport Cooperative. Tawat Puekboon-nark, president of the Pattaya Transport Cooperative.

It is estimated that there is a daily turnover of 150-200 taxis from out of town bringing in passengers to Pattaya and neighboring towns, who ply the streets of Pattaya looking for fares, before returning to Bangkok.

Metered-taxi service came to Pattaya in 2008 but has been virtually ignored by Thais and used only marginally by tourists and expats. The abundance of cheap baht buses suffices for most people and the reluctance of metered-taxi drivers to actually use their meters has scared off many others.

Still, the transport cooperative says it’s working hard to make the air-conditioned compacts a safe, affordable and viable option for travelers.

Pattaya Taxi Cooperative President Tawat Puekboon-nark (tel. 081 983 8716, (you can call for a taxi at this number too) said his organization now has nearly 100 metered taxis under its jurisdiction. All are equipped with global positioning system transponders, so cars can be monitored to ensure the safety of passengers. However, he said, passengers should still note the taxi’s number and driver’s name, just in case.

Meters should also eliminate disputes over fares, Tawat said. All the cars use the same meters that are installed and used reliably in Bangkok cabs. However, he admitted, many drivers prefer not to use meters and instead negotiate a flat-rate fare for destinations in the Pattaya area.

Many don’t realize that can result in extremely overpriced fares.

A typical negotiated price for a ride from Pattaya Beach Road to Jomtien’s Royal Cliff Beach Resort can cost 150-300 baht. On the meter, however, a base fare of 35 baht is charged with a per-kilometer fee of 2 baht for the first two kilometers, 4.5 baht for the third kilometer and seven baht for each successive kilometer.

Thus, for a trip from North Pattaya Beach to the Royal Cliff, using the meter would cost only about 50 baht.

Metered taxis line up to wait for customers.Metered taxis line up to wait for customers.

The fare from Pattaya to Suvarnabhumi Airport is 1200 baht inclusive toll fees.

Passengers who still want flat rates are urged to agree to the price in advance. In case of fare disputes, passengers can call the Pattaya Transport Cooperative at 038-423-554 or 038-362-113. Taxis can also be booked at these numbers.  Tawat said drivers found in violation of cooperative rules can have their licenses seized or suspended and be subjected to fines.

Suworn Udondej (tel. 081 590 2250, which can also be used to call for a taxi, along with the company phone number 038 713 537), owner of Udomdath Transport Ltd. Part., said he currently operates 18 taxis and has plans to expand to 60 within four months.

He said the company works hard to ensure its drivers are safe and reliable. All drivers must take refresher driver-training courses every two months and a full resume is taken so the driver’s background can be checked, he said.

Suworn advised passengers to avoid the unsanctioned cabs as drivers may not even be from Pattaya – and hence get lost – and because disgruntled passengers would have nowhere to turn to voice complaints.

He said he hopes the city cracks down on the rogue taxis to improve the image of public transport in Pattaya.