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Thailand rules Uber illegal, orders to halt taxi services
[BANGKOK] Thai transport authorities on Tuesday said US online taxi booking company Uber was operating illegally and has ordered it to stop providing services, on the same day taxi apps were banned in the Indian capital of New Delhi.
The Department of Land Transport said drivers picking up fare-paying passengers via Uber were neither registered nor insured to drive commercial vehicles, and that the credit-card payment system did not comply with regulations.
"They have to stop operations immediately," Director-General Thiraphong Rodprasert told reporters after meeting officials from Uber, GrabTaxi and EasyTaxi to discuss regulating internet taxi services.
In Thailand, Uber's app acts as a matchmaker between owners of private vehicles and passengers, and has its own fare structure. GrabTaxi and EasyTaxi work with traditional taxi firms, using regular meters to calculate fares.
Drivers who use personal vehicles for commercial use could be fined 2,000 baht (US$61), and the transport department is discussing with legal experts to implement higher penalties, Mr Thiraphong said.
The Uber representative attending the meeting declined to comment.
The meeting between the government and taxi app makers was arranged before a passenger in New Delhi reported she had been raped by a driver contracted to Uber. The incident brought taxi apps to the attention of authorities, who on Tuesday banned all unregistered internet taxi firms from operating in the Indian capital.
Taxi booking apps have irked drivers at traditional taxi firms across the globe. Consumers are increasingly using the smartphone software to find people willing to drive them from A to B, rather than booking a cab by phone.