Taxi fares should be adjusted every two years and a “travel time” surcharge should be added based on time spent in traffic, according to the Thai Development Research Institute (TDRI) in a statement issued on Thursday after recent public hearings into industry problems.
A recent TDRI study found that limitations in the cost structure and business operations of Thai taxi services have hurt safety, service quality and maintenance. The TDRI also proposed that app-based rideshare companies (or transportation network companies, TNCs) should also be legalised with strict conditions. The backgrounds of taxi drivers should also be screened, the report said, and there should be training in proper customer service, and drivers should be evaluated through a point system.
Transport and logistics expert Sumet Ongkittikul, who heads the TDRI team making policy recommendation for the Department of Land Transport (DLT), said the current taxi fare should add a “travel time” surcharge of 50 satang per minute to be levied once the journey exceeds an estimated travel time.
To ensure that consumers benefit from TNC, while maintaining fair competition with standard taxi services, the report called for four measures:
1. That TNC operators be required to register and obtain a public transport licence from the DLT and pay related taxes. 2. That personal cars that provide rideshare services should be required to register for public transport use and obtain a specific insurance policy to cover passengers. 3. That TNC drivers be required to obtain a public transport driver licence as required for traditional taxi drivers. 4. The supervision of fares to ensure service operators do not take advantage of passengers. Conventional Thai taxi services have been subjected to complaints over quality issues, such as vehicle conditions and unacceptable behaviour by some drivers, including refusing passengers’ fare requests and overcharging fares. The arrival of TNC rideshare companies such as Uber and Grab present a competition threat. NT – EP