Taxi Drivers still say 'NO'
I'm the sort of guy who hates rules. No, I'm not an anarchist. Let me explain. I like rules, but not when they are not enforced or obeyed. For example, if there is a rule saying that smoking is illegal in a public park, I like that rule. But if people smoke regardless, I would much rather if the rule hadn't been established in the first place. That way, I wouldn't have to witness people breaking the rule. I would just happily go about my business, accepting that people are allowed to smoke, and it wouldn't bother me at all.
You see, a rule like that is a good thing, but if nothing changes other than a portion of society are breaking a rule then it becomes a bad thing. Those who like things to be fair and just are now witnessing society fail to uphold law and order, and most people will agree that there are bigger issues for law enforcement officers to be focusing their time and attention on.
Taxi Drivers must say yes
If I got a baht for every time I asked a Bangkok Taxi driver to take me to a destination only to be rudely dismissed, I wouldn't be rich, but I would have enough for a few free Taxi rides with the guys who actually say yes. While this used to bother me a bit, eventually I learned to accept that this was just the way it was. After all, it seems fair enough that the decision to take a fare or not lies with the driver. Jumping forward to the present, and suddenly I find myself annoyed by this behaviour anew.
You see, the law now says that Taxi drivers are not allowed to pick and choose who they will drive or where they will go. But, the reality is that many drivers can still afford to be picky.
If you watch any TV show or movie set in New York, at some point you will invariably see someone hopping into a famous yellow New York cab. After hopping into the cab, the customer will state their required destination and that's that.
In Bangkok, even if it is raining heavily, the customer apologetically opens the rear door of the Taxi, crouches in slightly and politely askes if the Taxi driver would be willing to drive to the destination. Generally, the driver will act cool and, usually without making eye contact with the prospective customer, he will either nod to indicate that he is willing to take you (at which point he will promptly start the meter going) or he will shake his head, and wait for you to close the door.
The uninitiated may well climb into the cab, NY style, only to be turfed out when the picky driver opts not to go that way.
When it was announced that drivers must not refuse fares, an appeal was made to people to report the drivers who fail to abide by the new rule. Yet, if you observe the behaviour of the average Taxi user, you will see that nothing has changed. Folks still politely request their destination, and when rejected they are kind enough to carefully close the door of the taxi. They will never take the time to request the name and registration number of the driver. They will never take the time to call the authorities and report the offence.
So, my suggestion is this: Just forget this law. Announce that Taxi drivers are allowed to refuse whoever they like, and leave it at that. At least that way the only frustration will be that Taxi drivers are somewhat picky, cold and rude. It means we don't also have to consider them lawless.
Another solution would be to simply reduce their fares. Maybe then they would be less picky!
I want to start being picky about the Taxi I take. Like when it stops and I open the door, if I smell cigarette smoke I should just say "NO" and close the door. Or if I open the door and there are no seatbelts, or if the seats are torn, or if the cab has been modified with lowered suspension and exhaust pipe modifications, of if the driver doesn't match the photo ID in the front window, or if the driver is taking on a cell phone. But lets be realistic, that would mean I would be able to take 1 taxi in 100. Might as well walk.
And there is the problem. We can't be picky, they can.