Around 100 drivers showed up to protest against what they claimed were ‘too expensive’ mandatory new equipment. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Drivers of privately owned taxis have urged the Department of Land Transport (DLT) to scrap its policy requiring all registered drivers to install new equipment in their cabs, citing “high and unfair” modification costs.
Woraphol Kaemkhuntod, president of the Professional Association of Public Taxi Motorists, filed a complaint at the Ministry of Transport Tuesday, accompanied by around 100 drivers of yellow-green taxis — the colours signifying the cabs are privately owned, not rented.
The DLT’s regulations, announced simultaneously with its “Taxi OK” and “Taxi VIP” services, were effective as of Nov 9.
They require all registered taxis to be equipped with GPS systems, snapshot cameras, taxi fare meters and an emergency button for passengers.
Those who do not follow through with the changes will not be allowed to register with the DLT as public taxis, and so will not receive yellow licence plates.
Mr Woraphol said the cost of these changes is at least 29,000 baht per vehicle, adding that over 10,000 owners of new, red-plated taxis are still unable to register their cabs.
“Taxi drivers with red plates risk being flagged down and fined, but they still have to earn money to pay off their 18,000 baht monthly car instalments, regardless.”
Mr Woraphol said the government sector should provide financial support for all the DLT’s regulations.
Vice Minister of Transport Teerapong Rordprasert said the complaint has been sent to the DLT for review. The department is due to report back to the ministry by next week.
An announcement of the fares to be used in the DLT’s Taxi VIP service was announced in the Royal Gazette on Monday.
DLT director-general Sanith Phromwong said that to qualify for the new VIP service taxis must possess “superior qualities” to regular taxi cabs, such being able to accommodate up to seven passengers.
The Gazette said fares for such vehicles will start at 150 baht for the first two kilometres, followed by 12-16 baht per kilometre after that.
In cases where the vehicle cannot proceed faster than 6km per hour, the meter will observe a six baht per minute fare, according to the Gazette.
Fares for trips exceeding 300 kilometres can be negotiated between the driver and passenger, it said.