Make us legal, pleads Uber
Uber Technologies, the San Francisco-based maker of the ride-sharing mobile app, has called on Thai authorities to legalise its services in Thailand for the sake of consumers.
"We want to be regulated by the Thai government as we intend to continue operating in Thailand," said Chan Park, general manager for Southeast Asia of Uber.
Uber's ultimate goal is to operate legally in every city where it exists, up from just 12 currently, he said.
Two years after it rolled into Thailand, Uber is still illegal here.
The Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia are Uber territories in Southeast Asia that have provided the company with a legitimate legal framework.
"We expect many more cities to pass ride-sharing regulations this year, making us legal for app-based services," Mr Park said.
Uber is in talks with local regulators over its services and reports positive progress after the first stage of negotiations.
Officials have acknowledged that the ride-sharing service could relieve traffic congestion and expand public transport.
"There is a big difference between unregulated and illegal business," Mr Park said.
Uber aims to reduce the average wait time for users in Bangkok to three minutes in 2017, down from 5.65 minutes this year. The average wait time in the city was seven minutes in 2015 and 10 minutes in 2014.
Uber could double the number of Uber rides it has provided in the past 12 months. It has tens of thousands of Thai drivers out of millions of drivers globally.
Earlier, Uber said it aimed to increase the number of drivers in Thailand from 30,000 to 100,000 by 2017.
Uber provides three ride-sharing services in Thailand: UberBlack, an executive luxury service using luxury sedan vehicles; UberX, the least expensive service with independent drivers using their own personal vehicles; and UberMoto, for which Uber chose Bangkok to launch its first motorbike taxi service.
Uber recently offered a cash payment system in Thailand after previously requiring users to register with a credit card. The move is expected to widen Uber's customer base to seniors and students.
Founded seven years ago, Uber now operates in more than 400 cities in 70 countries. Its legality has been challenged by governments and taxi companies, who allege that its use of drivers not licensed to drive taxis is unsafe and illegal.