Bangkok’s low taxi fares are legendary, particularly in comparison to their Western city counterparts.
But, of course, with low fares comes a wider margin for bad behaviour. Complaints about some drivers refusing fares, refusing to use the meter, dropping passengers off in the wrong place, bad driving and no seatbelts, are a relatively commonplace occurrence.
However, a new 5 percent fare rise – equal to 50 satang per kilometre – which has been in the works for a while now, is hoping to change that.
Agreed by transport authorities back at the end of 2014 was a 13 percent fare hike for taxis; the first tranche comprised of an 8 percent rise came into effect in early 2015 and the remaining 5 percent rise was delayed until taxis could prove that they had measurably improved their services – namely, always accepting fares and using their meters.
Drivers were denied the raise again in January 2016, and again in a meeting yesterday, according to the Bangkok Post. It is thought that the rise will be introduced after this year’s Songkran celebration in mid-April, however, according to recent reports.
“The five-percent fare rise will happen surely as earlier approved in principle because operating costs have been studied and passengers’ satisfaction surveyed. But the problem is that the rejection of passengers and failure to use meters continues. So solutions to these must be figured out,” explained Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, minister for transport.
The solutions proposed are reportedly large fine increases for drivers who refuse passengers and don’t use the meter – from the current rate of ฿1,000 to ฿10,000. The owners of the taxis who lease the vehicles to offending drivers will also face stiff fines, of up to ฿50,000.
This change in the law will take a year from publication in the Royal Gazette to actually come into effect, according to Sanit Phromwong, director general of the Land Transport Department.
It was recently discovered that the place passengers are most likely to be denied taxi service in Bangkok is in the Ratchaprasong area near the affluent Chit Lom neighbourhood.
“In all, 294 drivers were found to have refused to take passengers to their destinations in December and almost all of them, or 277, turned down the rides in the Ratchaprasong area,” said Mr Sanit.
Do you think the fine increase will help improve Bangkok’s taxi services?