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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Tuk-tuks brought to seaside city
TucTuc vehicle
Brighton's tuk-tuks will operate mainly during the summer months
A new type of taxi service is starting in Brighton using Asian tuk-tuks - three-wheeled vehicles.

It is said to be the first service of its kind in the UK and there are plans to extend it to other areas.

TucTuc Ltd said it was testing the vehicles in Brighton before a London launch next year.

The vehicles are environmentally friendly, running on compressed natural gas with super-low emissions, the company said.

Twelve liveried vehicles have been imported from India and given individual designs, with designer uniforms for drivers.

The vehicles are called tuk-tuks because of the sound their engines make.

They can go at speeds of up to 35mph.

We want to encourage everyone to go green
Dominic Ponniah

The UK versions have been fitted with hoods and curtains to keep out the rain and cold of the English city, and special safety features including passenger and driver seatbelts and strengthened overhead and side-impact protection.

Dominic Ponniah, executive director of TucTuc Ltd, said it offered tourists and shoppers "a safe, economical and environmentally friendly means of getting around congested cities".

He said the vehicles were compact, would help to ease congestion in the seaside city, and would become "a massive tourist attraction".

TucTuc vehicle
One of the tuk-tuks has been dubbed the "Chav-rolet"

A filling station has been set up at Brighton Marina, which can also be used by the public, he added.

"We want to encourage everyone to go green," he said.

Brighton's tuk-tuks, which will run on a peak service during the summer and reduced service during the winter, have brought about 50 full and part-time jobs to the city.

The service is due to be introduced in London in May 2007, and is expected to expand to Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

The launch was at Brighton Racecourse on Thursday.

Route maps have been placed in every vehicle and in hotels and restaurants throughout the city.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the fleet of tuk-tuks speeding around Brighton



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