Dept comes to rescue of law-flouting GrabBike

GrabBike riders file their letter to seek the protection of their career, at the parliament in Bangkok on Thursday. (Parliament photo)
GrabBike riders file their letter to seek the protection of their career, at the parliament in Bangkok on Thursday. (Parliament photo)

A joint committee is working to save the GrabBike (Win) service, which is closing down due to a legal violation, says a Department of Land Transport (DLT) notice.

The panel, represented by the DLT, Royal Thai Police, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Internal Security Operations Command, will talk to GrabBike (Win) and try to figure out a way to keep the service operating and within the bounds of the law, it said.

The motorcycle taxi service of the popular ride-hailing app is coming to an end as Grab Thailand has notified its drivers, indicating the firm will terminate contracts with those who use motorbikes that are not registered for public transport services by July 15.

Worachat Luxkanalode, executive director at Grab Thailand, said the move could affect tens of thousands of drivers, who will lose their income.

The joint panel is taking into consideration the need to cater to public demand for public transport while bringing services under proper regulation to protect the safety of commuters, said the DLT announcement.

Regulation will also ensure fair competition among app-based, ride-hailing service providers. Many companies have been open to requests to legalise their services since last October and so far two have been approved — the Hello Phuket Service and Bonku.

As for GrabBike (Win), motorcycles registered as private vehicles were being used to shuttle passengers, in contravention of the law that requires public transport vehicles to be specially registered for the purpose.

The way the company calculated fares also failed to comply with the law, according to the DLT. The department said it has granted GrabBike (Win) some time to resolve its motorcycle registration and fare-related problems.

The agency said if the registration issue is not tackled, the company should switch to transporting food or parcels instead.

Using lawfully registered motorcycles as taxis would also reduce the conflict between GrabBike riders and drivers who operate using taxi driver queues.