Uber asks to be legalised

Uber asks to be legalised

Uber has encountered red tape at almost every turn, as it tries to establish both auto and motorcycle services in Bangkok. (File photo)
Uber has encountered red tape at almost every turn, as it tries to establish both auto and motorcycle services in Bangkok. (File photo)

Uber, a smartphone-based motorcycle and taxi service, has proposed the Transport Ministry amend public transport regulations to allow the company to operate legally.

Daroon Saengchai, deputy permanent secretary at the ministry, said tUESday Uber had asked for the change so its motorcycle drivers, who were not required to wear taxi vests with their private bikes, could provide services anywhere.

Under the existing law, those found using private vehicles to provide public services for passengers without taxi registration face a fine of up to 2,000 baht and drivers who fail to dress in line with the Department of Land Transport's (DLT) regulations or lack a proper licence face fines of up to 1,000 baht.

The change was sought after the DLT ordered GrabBike and UberMoto to stop operating last month due to violations of the public transport regulations. Mr Daroon said a panel, which was set up with Uber to find solutions, will consider the issue based on the principle the company must operate its business in line with public transport regulations, regardless of whether the law will be amended.

The panel will focus on passenger safety as a priority as well as fairness to the existing motorcycle taxi drivers who registered with the DLT. Chaired by Mr Daroon, the panel also includes representatives from the police, military, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the DLT.

"We can go ahead with the change if there are reasonable grounds. For Uber, we have to consider various aspects including passenger safety," he said.

Mr Daroon also stressed UberMoto's operations are still suspended indefinitely, adding legal action will be brought against those who violate the law.

Meanwhile, Neramit Srangiam, executive director of ALL Thai Taxi, another smartphone-based taxi service, said the company will double its vehicle numbers from its existing 549 taxis to 1,000 by early next year.

With its current number of taxis, the company is expected to generate revenue of up to 400 million baht a year. After the new vehicles are launched, income is set increase to one billion baht a year.

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