A panel assigned to study ride-sharing has agreed to legalise the service and will ask Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob for approval to start drafting a new ministerial law, panel chairman and Transport Ministry Deputy Permanent Secretary Chirute Visalachitra said on Wednesday (Sept 25).
The bill, together with eligibility criteria for drivers and cars, should be finalised within 30 days. Under the law, private car owners will be able to apply as “taxi drivers” with the Land Transport Department. After passing background checks, they will be able to operate via a smartphone application only.
The priority in ride-sharing legalisation is that “we must assure safety for passengers”, Mr Chirute said, adding that a facial recognition system will be used to verify drivers' identities during the service. Passengers will also be informed of fare rates and car types via the app in advance.
In moves to prevent possible conflict, the department will set rules to prevent ride-sharing drivers from “snatching passengers” from conventional taxis parked at certain areas, Mr Chirute added.
“We expect to enforce [the law] in March next year,” Mr Chirute said.
Pressure to legalise ride-sharing – a campaign promise made by the Bhumjaithai Party – is spurred by complaints that conventional taxis regularly refuse passengers.
However, taxi drivers, led by the Association of Public Taxi Motorists, oppose the plan. Last week they rallied at the Transport Ministry to demand B8.5 billion in compensation if legalisation goes ahead.
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