B5 minimum taxi fare hike needed, TDRI finds

B5 minimum taxi fare hike needed, TDRI finds

Flag drop on taxi meters is soon to rise for the first time in more than 20 years after a study showed most drivers earn little more than the minimum wage.
Flag drop on taxi meters is soon to rise for the first time in more than 20 years after a study showed most drivers earn little more than the minimum wage.

A new policy recommendation on taxi reform is calling for a five baht increase on the minimum fare and also an additional surcharge for traffic delays.

Prepared by the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), the proposal divides the taxi fare in two parts instead of one. The first part of the fare is the distance calculation, which has been used across the country for over two decades. The minimum fare per trip is currently 35 baht for journeys of two kilometres or less, after which the meter begins rising.

The proposal introduces a new charge -- a "travel time" fee -- calculated according to time spent in traffic. This surcharge would be levied once the journey exceeds an estimated travel time.

Sumet Ongkittikul, an expert on transportation at the TDRI and head of the team conducting the policy recommendation, said the proposal aims to help the taxi industry survive as well as improve the quality of the service. The study found taxi drivers earn 300-400 baht per day, on a par with the minimum daily wage.

"That low income prevents our taxi industry improving in quality. So, if passengers want a better taxi service, they need to pay more in order to help taxi drivers survive and have an incentive to improve. But of course, the increased fare must also come with better regulation and severe penalties for unscrupulous drivers, said Mr Sumet.

The TDRI will send the proposal to the Department of Land Transport by the end of May. If it is accepted, the authority will ask for cabinet approval. If all goes to plan the new fares are likely to be implemented by the end of the year, according to Mr Sumet.


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