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Expatriate Health Insurance News: Open meeting proposed over Phuket buses

Calls for an open meeting to discuss bus services from Phuket International Airport to the west coast of the island have been made.

At present there is no service between the two destinations, meaning that taxis and tuk tuks have a monopoly on ferrying tourists, locals and expatriates to and fro, reports Phuket Wan.

This has led them to raise the prices considerably to a level so high that many decide to stay away from this area and travel to somewhere with a regular bus service.

Around 200 taxi and tuk tuk drivers gathered last week and voted against a public meeting to discuss the issue, stating that they would carry out illegal street blockades if buses began to run on the route.

In the past authorities in Phuket have tolerated street protests that have arisen in a spur of the moment manner, but have decided to act against premeditated blockades.

They are also determined to get the hop-on hop-off buses rolling as they would provide a low cost alternative to the existing transport options and bring more visitors into the Kata-Karon region.

Jaturong Keawkasi, a specialist at the Phuket Land Transport Office, said: "One suggestion will be that a large open meeting be held at Rajabhat University so that everyone can express a view.

"We would expect residents, tourists and expats to attend to offer a perspective that is very different to the outlook of the tuk tuk and taxi drivers."

Transport laws in Phuket were drawn up decades ago and dictate that taxi drivers and their tuk tuk counterparts can only carry tourists around their specific areas.

This means that those operating in Kata-Karon cannot look for trade in other regions, but it also allows them to charge as much as they like as no other drivers can come in and take the business away.

In comparison to taxi fares in Bangkok, those in Phuket can be as much as ten times the price.

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