Govt insists it supports online taxis

Govt insists it supports online taxis

The Transport Ministry has reiterated it has no plan to ban or object to online taxi calling services.

Deputy Transport Minister Pichit Akrathit said yesterday the ministry has not shut the door on commercial enterprises operating online taxi calling services, as long as they comply with the regulations.

He said the ministry recognises the necessity to adopt new technology to facilitate the calling of taxi services with the aid of mobile phone applications. In fact, it supports such businesses, he said.

He was allaying concerns by some customers the taxi calling services operated via the mobile app could violate regulations as it acts as a middleman bringing together customers and taxis.

However, Mr Pichit, speaking at a meeting to improve taxi services yesterday, repeated the government’s stand that taxis must obey the law as they must use vehicles registered for public transport and the drivers must be licensed to transport people for a fee.

Currently, no law exists that permits Uber’s ride-sharing service though the Uber company has discussed in vain with the Department of Land Transport (DLT) to legalise its operation since it was introduced to Thailand in 2014.

Officials have kept mum on Uber’s request to amend laws to make the ride-sharing service legal as an alternative new transport service.

The meeting yesterday focused on what constitutes a legal taxi service, how it could be made more convenient for customers and what plans are in store to develop the taxi services.

The online ride-hailing services, provided by Grab Taxi and All Thai Taxi, are in line with the law as they use mobile phone applications to bring taxi drivers and customers together, Mr Pichit said.

The DLT is working with the Thailand Creative and Design Centre on a new project to gather ideas to improve the image of Thai taxis marred by complaints that include refusal by drivers to take customers to their destinations, and having unsafe vehicles on the road.

Workshops will also be held to gather ideas and to educate officials, the deputy minister said.

The DLT has announced it will next year roll out Taxi Ok and Taxi VIP apps where people can access information about taxi drivers as well as taxi locations.

Meanwhile, DLT inspector-general Manot Chanwatthanasil said the department will continue to keep watch on Uber.