Deputy Transport Minister Pichit Akrathit introduces the new taxi service, Taxi OK and Taxi VIP. (File photo)
The Transport Ministry will launch two new taxi apps and services on Nov 9, Taxi OK and Taxi VIP, in which the vehicles will all be fitted with GPS devices, with the intention to enrol 40,000 drivers in the greater Bangkok area this year.
Deputy Transport Minister Pichit Akrathit said on Friday the project was aimed at boosting public confidence in the safety of the taxi service.
It was planned to have 40,000 taxis using the two mobile apps, Taxi OK and Taxi VIP, by the end of this year. This would be gradually increased to 80,000, or 72% of all taxis in the Bangkok area, next year.
Currently, there were 110,000 taxis registered with the Department of Land Transport (DLT). Of these the licences of 40,000 cabs would expire this year. They were required to join up with Taxi OK or Taxi VIP, Mr Pichit said.
Next year, about 40,000 more taxis would be brought into the system. Drivers of the remaining 30,000 taxis would be allowed to decide whether to switch to the new service or continue with the current one, the deputy minister said.
The ministry had asked the DLT to consider adding a pre-booking service to the Taxi OK app, to make it different from Grab and Uber.
The ministry was in the process of setting suitable fares for the Taxi VIP app. The fare for the first two kilometres must not exceed 200 baht, and the fare for the next kilometres must not exceed 30 baht. Waiting time in heavy traffic must not exceed 10 baht per minute.
Currently, the fare for the first two kilometres must not exceed 50 baht, and the next kilometre not more than 12 baht. Waiting time in heavy traffic is 3 baht a minute, said Mr Pichit.
The Thailand Creative & Design Centre (TCDC) has proposed improvements to the taxi service to the ministry. This follows repeated complaints of drivers refusing passengers, reckless driving, rude language and overcharging.
The proposals include taxi-sharing by passengers wanting to travel the same route, use of taxi stands where intending passengers could wait for cabs, pre-booking to provide added convenience and reduce the number of refusals.
Also, in-car media that passengers would pay extra to use, such as taxi-wifi that will be installed in cabs from December, and providing information such as showing the amount of fuel remaining, which would help solve the problem of taxis refusing passengers.
TCDC has held talks with taxi cooperatives about these proposals and giving them a trial. It will start setting up taxi stands at Chulalongkorn University next month, and then expand into crowded areas such as Siam Square and Charoen Krung Road, the deputy minister said.
The TCDC would assess the use of the measures during the trial period and provide a report for the DLT for consideration within 3 months. Later, the ministry would decide which measures were suitable for the new taxi service.