Minister mulls taxi fare hike proposal
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith is demanding officials study further an 8% taxi fare hike before he approves the proposal.
He had reservations about approving the new rate, which will be applied only when taxis get stuck in bad traffic, with no change to the currently fixed starting fare of 35 baht.
The new calculation, unveiled on Tuesday by the Department of Land Transport, is based on a study conducted by the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).
"I need to call the department for a talk before making a decision," Mr Arkhom said Thursday.
According to Department of Land Transport deputy chief Kamol Buranaphong, whether the fare increase will take effect or not depends on Mr Arkhom's decision.
The minister said he wants to ensure authorities are taking appropriate measures, as only taxis under the department-run Taxi OK programme will be eligible for the new fare structure.
It is essential to come to a "clear conclusion" on what to do for all taxi drivers, including those who are not registered under the programme, Mr Arkhom said.
Taxi OK-certified taxis are required to pass additional, above-standard tests for roadworthiness, safety and services.
The programme is aimed at improving both vehicles' performance and drivers' behaviour, following a number of complaints against them.
At present, only 12,986 of 80,647 taxis nationwide are listed as Taxi OK vehicles.
Mr Kamol said on Tuesday he believes the TDRI-based fare solution will help relieve the financial woes of taxi drivers who often complain about low daily earnings.
On average, they get a net income of about 400 baht a day, a bit higher than the 325 baht minimum wage in Bangkok.
To stay financially healthy, the net amount must increase to more than 1,600 baht, according to the TDRI.
The 8% hike is the latest effort of the government to help the drivers.
In 2014, the Transport Ministry approved a taxi fare rise of 13% but decided to first grant only part of the increase (8%).
The other part has been delayed, pending drivers' improved services.
Unfortunately, complaints over their inappropriate behaviour keep rolling in to the department.
From October of last year to September of this year, there were more than 48,000 complaints, Mr Kamol said.
He added that the trend is on the rise.
Rejecting passengers topped the list of complaints.
Several reports of impolite services and careless driving were also made.