Bhumjaithai, a coalition party championing the sharing economy, has agreed to consider compensation for some 100,000 Bangkok taxi drivers to be affected by its ride-sharing legalisation policy, according to the leader of the taxi drivers in the capital.
Withoon Naewpanich, chairman of the network of taxi drivers’ cooperatives in Bangkok, met Supachai Chaisamut, secretary-general of the party, on Monday afternoon.
Mr Withoon said while Mr Supachai did not give him any promises since a party member has yet to be officially appointed the transport minister, the talks were promising.
“Mr Supachai is confident if Bhumjaithai can push the policy, it’s willing to consider financial compensation for some 100,000 drivers,” Mr Withoon said.
He added the party also promised to consider the report he brought with him. The documents involved a comparison between the traditional taxi service and mobile application-based one such as Singapore-based Grab, which found the latter charged more.
The report also showed the structure of taxi services abroad.
Mr Withoon also went to the head office of Palang Pracharath, the core party forming the government, to submit the same documents for its consideration.
He said he would like the government to raise fares since the latest hike was made 27 years ago.
“We believe a fare hike would bring better service. We’re not sure whether the new government would do it since most of the new cabinet ministers are those from the current one.
“For four years, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has been reluctant to give a nod despite hikes of public transport fares,” he said.
Early on Monday, Mr Withoon led some 30 drivers representing taxi cooperatives to the Department of Land Transport to ask the government to help them when ride-sharing services are legalised as proposed by Bhumjaithai.
The group, which claimed to represent some 40,000 taxi driver registered under the cooperatives and another 40,000 with their own cars, had four requests for the new government.
First, there must be remedies for them if the change affects their jobs.
Second, legal action must be taken against current ride-sharing drivers.
Third, the Taxi OK programme, initiated earlier by the government to help them better compete with mobile application-based taxi hailing services by global players, must be reviewed since it has not been successful.
Lastly, fares must be revised to make them fairer and to reflect real costs. (continued below)
Motorcycle-taxi riders show a letter they submitted to the government at the Land Transport Department on Monday. They protested against the possible legalisation of ride-hailing services floated by the Bhumjaithai Party.
A group of motorcycle tax riders also submitted a letter at the department on the same day in protest against the legalisation of ride-sharing services.
Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnveerakul had reportedly bargained for the transport portfolio, in addition to being a deputy prime minister, so he could implement the policy during talks to join the Palang Pracharath-led government.
Mr Anutin insisted earlier that a condition for his party to join the government led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was that all of his party’s policies had to be adopted and implemented.
The presence of Grab, which provides hailing services for both car and taxi services on smartphones, has changed the industry.
Like their peers in large cities worldwide, traditional drivers have found it increasingly difficult to compete, especially with people who drive taxi part-time using their own cars, which are generally newer, cleaner and in better condition.
They also have faced numerous complaints. Chief among them are passenger refusals during rush hours and meter tampering, which drive more people to turn to ride-hailing services.
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