Ride-sharing firms 'to be legal by March'

Ride-sharing firms 'to be legal by March'

Transport Ministry drafting rules to bring Grab and peers into line with local regulations

The regional ride-hailing market leader Grab launched electric tuk tuk booking in Chiang Mai in June. (Post File Photo)
The regional ride-hailing market leader Grab launched electric tuk tuk booking in Chiang Mai in June. (Post File Photo)

The Transport Ministry has drafted guidelines to regulate ride-hailing companies and aims to legalise the services by March next year, according to Jirut Wisarnjit, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary.

Ride-sharing services for years have existed in a legal grey area locally, with police routinely stopping and fining drivers because they are not properly registered.

The guidelines require private vehicles to be registered and equipped with a GPS system, the ministry said in a statement. Drivers will also need a public driver’s licence.

As well, ride-hailing firms must verify the identities of drivers and operate a 24-hour complaint centre.

“We have to look at what is possible within the law to give choice to the public — not increase competition with taxis in the system,” Mr Wisarnjit told Reuters.

Ride-booking services powered by mobile apps, such as Grab, are popular as they are sometimes cheaper and drivers are less likely to refuse to take passengers to their destinations than regular taxis, but they have angered drivers of conventional taxis.

Legalising the ride-hailing business was a major election campaign promise of the Bhumjaithai Party, a key member of the coalition government. It now controls the Transport Ministry.

Singapore-based Grab offers rides in cars and on motorcycles in Thailand, while its rival Get, a unit of Indonesia’s Gojek, only offers motorcycle rides.

Some Thai companies have also invested in ride-sharing startups.

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