Prepare to pay a few baht more for Bangkok’s taxis next month and ride private Grab cars without feeling like a criminal.
To offset increasing costs for drivers, transport officials yesterday said they would give cab fares a small bump starting next month and rewrite the rules to permit popular ride-share service Grab’s private car services.
Starting Sept. 8, starting fares will remain the same but increase by half a baht from THB6 (US$0.20) to THB6.50 per kilometer for the first 10 kilometers. During heavy traffic when speeds fall below 6kph, fares will tick up by THB3 per minute rather than THB2.
“The price hike will come into effect in one month, which is the time frame the taxi operators requested,” transport minister Saksayam Chidchob told reporters.
The surcharge tacked onto fares at the airports will increase from THB50 to THB70 for regular taxis and from THB70 to THB90 (US$3) for large cabs. Passengers with three or more large luggage items will be charged an additional THB20.
Despite earning a spotty reputation for discriminatory practices, taxi driver incomes have lagged behind rises in costs of living. Fare increases have been few and far between, and are usually met with considerable pushback from the public.
This increase comes a year after the Thai Public Taxi Association submitted a demand for higher airport surcharges.
Saksayam said he also ordered the Land Transport Department to develop a new government-backed ride-hailing app since its first effort, called Taxi OK, bombed with consumers to the tune of a dim 1.8- of 5-star rating in the Apple store. Taxi OK will be discontinued.
On the private front, Singapore-based Grab’s private car services will be allowed so long as drivers register their business with the government for tracking purposes. That would bring drivers out of the shadows who’ve continued operating despite being declared illegal years ago by the military government. Regular taxis registered with Grab presented no problem as their drivers and vehicles were licensed with the state.
Saksayam said he ordered the regulations revised to accommodate the policy change.
Saksayam, a top Bhumjaithai Party figure, has been eager to make his mark since winning a cabinet seat. He’s proposed a number of populist measures including increasing highway speed limits, promising to drop commuter rail fares to a flat THB15 (US$.50) as well as putting forth plans for a third Bangkok airport.
None has yet to become a reality.