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Taxis likely to switch to Grab

THAILAND: Fewer conventional taxis are expected to remain in service if the Transport Ministry has its way with its draft ministerial regulation allowing the use of private cars for ride-hailing taxi services via apps.

By Bangkok Post

Thursday 27 May 2021, 11:00AM

Taxis are seen at Suvarnabhumi airport. Photo: Bangkok Post file.

Taxis are seen at Suvarnabhumi airport. Photo: Bangkok Post file.

Drivers or owners of conventional taxis carrying yellow number plates, which signify their status as public transport vehicles, are likely to switch to driving their own cars instead, according to Vithoon Naewpanich, president of the Thai Taxi Network Association.

His comment came after the cabinet this week approved a draft regulation allowing the use of private cars for ride-hailing taxi service via apps. The regulation would be a boon for GrabCar drivers who have provided the service without proper legal status for years.

Under the regulation, vehicles equipped with up to seven seats that are now registered as personal cars can double as taxis.

The Transport Ministry said the change is expected to be finalised in about a month from now.

Yesterday (May 26), Mr Vithoon cried foul over the move, saying it amounted to the government capitulating to pressure from illegal ride-hailing taxi services.

At the same time, yellow-plate taxis feel they are being punished for complying with the law. They registered legally and invested heavily to provide their service only to be put at risk of losing out to rivals, Mr Vithoon added.

There are about 80,000 yellow-plate taxis. Currently, only about 30,000 are in service because the COVID-19 pandemic has sapped demand.

“Taxi drivers feel they are being bullied by the draft regulation,” he said.

Even though he agreed with the deputy government spokeswoman, Traisuree Taisaranakul, that consumers will have greater choice, Mr Vithoon said the draft regulation spoke volumes about the government’s inability to right a wrong. He said it chose instead to pander to those who failed to comply with the law.

He said if the regulation takes effect, many yellow-plate taxis will turn to driving ride-hailing taxis with black number plates for a living. By contrast, the yellow-plate taxis are subject to a rigorous registration process. Yellow-plate taxi drivers are not happy with the regulation but they cannot gather to protest due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Giving ride-hailing taxis legal status where they can freely pick up passengers will hurt the already dwindling income of the yellow-plate taxi drivers, Mr Vithoon added. These taxis also operate their own hailing app, which shows they try to keep up with innovation and improve their service, he added.

Under the regulation, drivers are required to obtain a public transport driving licence, pass a criminal background check by the Royal Thai Police and use taxi-hailing apps certified by the Transport Ministry.

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JohnC | 30 May 2021 - 09:00:17

And don't get me started on the tuk-tuk mafia! 

JohnC | 30 May 2021 - 08:58:10

Anything has to be a better option on Phuket than the current taxi/limousine mafia that control most trade. Way expensive, usually poor service and they drive as if they think are in a race. You feel lucky if you make it to your destination in one piece. Time for change!

Kurt | 28 May 2021 - 01:15:09

Seems to be another government messing up,  capitulating to pressure of the illegal taxi services. Clearly not thought through the effects of it for many conventional thai taxidrivers lifehood. Not exactly the right time to implement all this during a Covid Pandemic with rising figures.  Strange thing, but probably a lot of money involved, for a few people. 

CaptainJack69 | 27 May 2021 - 13:22:15

Makes you wonder why they think Thailand would be any different from every other country in the world. Where ever protests have arisen against ride hailing services they have always failed. It's not as if Thais have the greatest respect for the law anyway.

We'll have to wait to see how our tuk-tuk thugs react to legal ride hailing drivers. Will be interesting.


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