Authorities approved a draft ministerial regulation authorizing personal cars’ use for ride-hailing taxi services through apps, a decision enthusiastically received by GrabCar drivers, who have provided rides without proper legal status for years.
Under this new regulation, vehicles equipped with up to seven seats currently registered as personal cars can function as taxis.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said it is expected to be completed next month. He said the current law neither registers vehicles as taxis nor recognizes owners who use their cars to pick up passengers even though the taxi-hailing app has grown in popularity.
The Department of Land Transport plans to spend a month writing an announcement regulating how the change would be implemented.
Subsequently, it would hold a public hearing on the matter before publishing the regulation in the Royal Gazette, Mr. Saksayam said. He added that, after the publication, companies that own taxi-hailing apps could apply for licenses to operate the new service.
Cars registered for service are categorized as small vehicles, medium vehicles, and large vehicles.
The first group includes some like Nissan March, Toyota Vios, and Honda City, and the second group comprises Toyota Altis and Honda Civic. The third group includes vehicles such as Honda Accord and Toyota Fortuner.
However, drivers must pass a criminal background check by the Royal Thai Police, get a public transport license, and only use taxi-hailing apps certified by the department, Mr. Saksayam explained.
Traisuree Taisaranakul, a deputy spokeswoman for the government, said the rule means consumers have a new option for taxi service and stated that the government plans to monitor services to ensure passenger safety. “More people are hailing taxi services through an application,” she added.
The government’s decision also seeks to support drivers who use personal vehicles to provide legal services.
Ms. Traisuree also explained that people who want to be drivers of the apps must register their vehicles with a person registered per car, indicating that autos cannot be more than nine years old. Furthermore, all drivers must have communication devices approved by the Department of Land Transportation and a symbol indicating that they use an electronic system to provide taxi service.
Small and medium vehicles must offer rides for a maximum cost of 50 baht for the first two kilometers traveled.
After that distance, the permitted fare is capped at 12 baht per kilometer, Ms. Traisuree said. Moreover, the service fee for large vehicles is limited to 200 baht for the first two kilometers and 50 baht per kilometer after that distance, Ms. Traisuree went on.