SUNDAY, April 21, 2024
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Suriya tries to solve Bangkok’s eternal problem of cabbies refusing passengers

Suriya tries to solve Bangkok’s eternal problem of cabbies refusing passengers

Transport Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit said on Sunday that he has instructed the Land Transport Department to solve the notorious problem of Bangkok taxi drivers refusing passengers during rush hour.

He said he issued the order in line with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s policy of improving taxi services, making them safer, more convenient and with appropriate fares.

The premier also urged the Transport Ministry to find out why cabbies refuse passengers during rush hour or when the roads are congested.

Suriya said he has instructed the Land Transport Department to urgently tackle this issue.

The task of getting Bangkok taxi drivers to stop picking and choosing fares has been almost impossible so far. Both the department and police have tried for years but failed to invoke the 1979 Land Transport Department Act, which prohibits taxi drivers from refusing passengers without a valid reason like lack of fuel or end of working hours.

In 2018, the Metropolitan Police Bureau introduced a system of immediately fining drivers and carrying out periodic crackdowns, especially in tourist areas.

This complaint of Bangkok cabbies refusing passengers has been made so many times on social media and news reports that even Google’s Gemini AI model puts it on the top of its list of issues related to taxis in Bangkok.

“Driver Refusal: This is a significant concern, with reports suggesting up to 40% of complaints involve drivers refusing fares. Reasons vary from avoiding congestion to unfamiliar routes, but often it’s linked to the desire for fixed fares, which can be higher than metered rates,” Gemini summarises.

According to Gemini, other issues include unfair treatment, particularly of foreigners: “Unfair Treatment: Passengers, particularly foreigners, report being overcharged or denied service, with some drivers favouring tourists willing to pay more.”

Suriya tries to solve Bangkok’s eternal problem of cabbies refusing passengers

Suriya said he has also instructed the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) to find out how the entire taxi system can be improved and study the fare structure by taking into account the current cost of living.

Suriya said the TDRI is reviewing procedures for carrying out the study and will also hold public hearings among consumer protection groups, taxi drivers’ associations and representatives from relevant state agencies.

He said he has also instructed the Land Transport Department to introduce other measures that will bring Thailand’s taxi system up to international levels.

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