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Few cases of cabbies rejecting passengers on 1st day

Only 13 complaints were received yesterday when the Metropolitan Police Bureau started imposing a Bt1,000 fine on any taxi driver turning down passengers.

All the taxi drivers against whom complaints were received would be located and fined if they were found to have actually refused to accept the passengers, the police said.

The Land Transport Depart-ment's passenger protection centre yesterday received complaints against 13 taxi drivers through its 1584 hotline. The number of complaints is much lower from the average day.

The complaints were less than usual as yesterday was the weekend and the initial data from the centre under Land Transport Department was reported before data gathering time. Normally, there are an average 100 complaints about this problem every day, or about 2,000 per month. This problem has been the biggest grouse of passengers followed by taxi drivers' improper manners and reckless driving, according to the bureau.

Police said passengers who were refused by any taxi drivers despite the "vacant" sign being on, could file their complaints with police present at the scene so that the drivers could be caught red-handed. Complaints could also be made through traffic police hotline 1197 if there was no police officer present at the scene.

Passengers have to remember the licence plate, the colours of the taxi and the driver's appearance, or take a photo or record a video clip.

Senior traffic police officer Lt-Colonel Prasopchok Iampinit advised spurned passengers to video-record the taxi involved for evidence if no police was nearby to fine the cab driver on the spot.

However, taxi driver Bancha Samruatjit, 47, expressed concern that the new fine against taxis turning down passengers might be abused or unfairly implemented.

Meanwhile, many taxi drivers said they were happy with warning tickets for petty traffic violations. The warning tickets for petty traffic violations were implemented yesterday for the first day.

About 12,800 complaints were filed against taxi drivers between January and June. The top complaints included refusing to accept passengers, being verbally rude, dropping off passengers before the agreed destination, unsafe driving, and refusing to use the meter.

Top excuses

The following are the main reasons taxi drivers cite for turning down passengers:

_ Rental time is running out and the taxi must be returned

_ Running out of gas

_ Traffic congestion

_ The destination is too near or too far

_ Passengers refuse to give extra money (tip) for long distance

_ Preferring foreign passengers who tend to pay tips or are unaware of detours


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