Taxi drivers may switch to rideshare apps with new regulations

PHOTO: Taxis may ditch strict rules to become rideshare drivers if new regulations passes. (via Wikimedia)

The president of the Thai Taxi Network Association says that many traditional licensed taxis will likely switch to driving their own cars as rideshare drivers. The statement comes in response to the government’s announcement that they have started to put together regulations for rideshare taxi apps, set to go into effect in a month or two. The new regulations would bring validity to the legal grey area of people using their private cars to give people rides for pay via mobile apps.

The new plans would place some safety and organizational regulations on ridesharing apps like Grab, requiring drivers and cars to be officially registered with a drivers license and a criminal background check and be equipped with safety and communication features, as well as put caps on pricing maximums for the apps.

While some hope the new regulation will bring them in line with the normal taxis, who have yellow license plates signifying that they are legal public transport, the taxi group president argues that the government is caving to illegal rideshare apps to legitimise them to the detriment of licensed taxis.

Operating as a legal taxi driver requires a lot of compliance with laws and regulations, and a heavy investment in licensing and a strict registration process, all of which may be rendered obsolete with the passage of the new regulations. The taxi association representative said cab drivers are being bullied with this legislation, while government bends for the lawbreakers at the expense of the legitimate taxi operators.

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Although legal taxis do have their own ride-hailing app already, many taxi drivers may abandon the complex and well-regulated system to go freelance easily as a less regulated rideshare driver.

There are about 80,000 yellow-plated taxis currently in Thailand, though only about 30,000 are now in operations because of sharply decreased demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. Longtime taxi drivers are angry about the coming regulations, feeling like they are being punished for obeying the laws. They want to protest, but will not gather because of Covid-19 restrictions.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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