Grab bike ‘taxis’ forced to get commercial licenses in Thailand

A win for ‘Win’ motorcycle taxi riders today after new rules force Grab riders into the same transportation regulations.

Of course, the new rules will probably force up the prices for Grab bikes from next month when the app-based ride-hailing service will have to comply with the same rules governing ‘Win Motocy’ motorcycle taxi riders.

The orange-safety-vest-clad Win drivers are hailing the change of rules as a win for their services.

From July 15 all Thai motorcycle taxi riders will have to register as “publicly hired drivers” and obtain yellow commercial license plates.

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Currently, most Grab riders are riding on privately owned motorbikes with the usual white license plates. But from July 15 they won’t be legally permitted to pick up paying customers.

Getting around many Thai cities by motorcycle taxi is the most common type of public transport – cheap, reliable and, statistically, safe (as safe as riding a motorcycle in Thailand can ever be).

They will also have to register and operate only within designated service areas and picking up passengers outside their “zone” won’t be permitted.

This change is in line with the traditional modus operandi of Win drivers where they are part of a “gang” that is limited to certain areas. The gangs have been organised arbitrarily over the years and service all the busy roads and intersections – you’ll see the riders hanging around waiting for customers under tatty umbrellas.

More bad news for the consumer whereby the new rules will specify the rates. Although the app-based Grab bikes will give you the price before you book the ride, the traditional riders just negotiate on the spot.

At this stage, it is not known whether there will be a cap on the number of new commercial plates for motorbikes or motorcycles. Current Grab drivers are concerned they may be cut out of the new Transport Ministry rules and have less than a month to sort out their situation.

There are currently nearly 100,000 registered Win drivers around Bangkok alone.

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Tim Newton

Tim joined The Thaiger as one of its first employees in 2018 as an English news writer/editor and then began to present The Thaiger's Daily news show in 2020, Thailand News Today (or TNT for short). He has lived in Thailand since 2011, having relocated from Australia.

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