Taxis who reject passengers will now face bigger fines

BANGKOK — Bangkokians rejoice! Cabbies who refuse passengers will be subject to heavier fines under a new legal amendment, officials said Monday.

In an attempt to scour a nuisance nearly every commuter has encountered, Land Transport Department deputy director Tanee Suebrerk said the current fine of 2,000 baht will be raised to 5,000 baht. His comments came the same day a group of cabbies staged a protest to demand tougher action against alternative online taxi services.

Explaining the proposed amendment, Tanee said his department wants to bring taxi regulations in line with those for other public transport like buses and vans.

“Currently, taxis face light penalties, even though they are also public transport,” he said.

Under the new rule, owners of vehicles rented out to violating taxi drivers will also face a maximum fine of 50,000 baht. The official said the tougher fines are part of broader reforms to the 1979 traffic law being deliberated by Parliament.

Although illegal, being rejected by taxi drivers who prefer to drive a short distance or pick up gullible foreign tourists is a common occurrence in Bangkok. The experience has driven some commuters to resort to ridesharing via applications like GrabCar, though such services remain in legal limbo.

On the same day, representatives of taxi driver guilds staged a rally to oppose a pledge made by a party in the governing coalition to legalize GrabCar and other similar services.

Speaking at a protest in front of Bhumjaithai Party headquarters, a leader of a taxi driver association said the proposal, if implemented, will impose unfair competition on taxi drivers who have to comply with the state’s extensive regulations.

“It’s a good policy, but our [association] believes it may negatively impact taxi drivers,” Withoon Naewpanich said.

A representative from Bhumjaithai Party told the protesters he will pass their suggestions to party leader Anutin Charnvirakul.

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