Thailand mulls first taxi fare hike since 2014 as costs surge

About 25 per cent of taxi drivers in Bangkok have been squeezed out of business in recent years. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Thailand may allow taxi operators in the capital Bangkok to increase fares for the first time in more than eight years to help drivers cope with rising fuel and living costs as retail inflation hovers near a 14-year high.

About 25 per cent of taxi drivers in Bangkok have been squeezed out of business in recent years, as the freeze in rates from 2014 meant their earnings lagged the 7 per cent gain in cost of living during the period, Mr Sorapong Paitoonphong, Thailand's deputy minister of transport, said in a statement Thursday.

The Transport Ministry is now gathering feedback from different consumer groups to ensure that any fare increase will not adversely hit users, who are also battling a surge in expenses, Mr Sorapong said.

The ministry did not provide a time-frame for the hike.

As commuters now tend to hail rides for shorter distances and take fewer trips, cost per trip has spiked for the taxi drivers and cut their income, Mr Sorapong said.

This has slashed the number of metre-taxis that operate in Bangkok from 80,000 to 60,000 per day, he said.

Taxi drivers in the Thai capital, who were also hit hard by the absence of tourists during the pandemic, account for almost all of the nationwide fleet of 83,000 taxis, according to data from the Department of Land Transport.

The fare hike, if approved, will follow recent hikes on instant noodles, the first in 14 years, as well as minimum wage, which was frozen since January 2020. BLOOMBERG

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