Bangkok - Thailand Transportation Minister Saksayam Chidchob presided over the launch of 'a fleet of new-normal partitioned taxis,' an initiative under an overarching project aimed at enhancing safety and confidence in the service of hire cars with a maximum capacity of seven people. The event was also attended by Chirute Visalachitra, Director-General of the Department of Land Transport, Mr. Tanawong Areeratchakul, President of SCG Chemicals, along with executives of the Ministry of Transportation, the Department of Land Transport, SCG Chemicals, as well as taxi drivers. These taxis will provide services at regular fares. The installation of these in-cabin partitions is one of the relief measures for taxi drivers and will help reassure passengers that it is safe to ride taxis during the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic.
Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Minister of Transportation, said that during the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, every business sector is forced to adjust to public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus. This applies particularly to taxi services, where the close proximity between the driver and the passenger is leaving customers feeling unsure about the safety. As this lack of confidence has affected taxi business owners, operators, and drivers alike, it is necessary to develop innovations to assist those affected and improve the public transportation system for the new-normal era. The government, under the administration of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha, appreciates the gravity of the issue and has assigned the Ministry of Transportation to consider preventive and control measures in order to assist taxi drivers and enable them to operate as usual. In response to this policy, the Department of Land Transport has initiated a project to boost safety and confidence for users of hire cars with a maximum of seven seats. Under this initiative, partitions are installed in taxis to separate the driver and the passenger to prevent the dispersal of aerosols when talking, coughing, or sneezing, thus reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 and providing assurance to public transportation users. In the first phase, the partition will be piloted in 3,000 participating taxis, consisting of those owned by juristic persons such as associations and cooperatives and privately-owned taxis. It is believed that the installation of the partition will not only help reduce the spread of COVID-19 between taxi drivers and passengers but also promote the safety of life and property for both parties, which will in turn boost consumer confidence in using taxi services and reduce the use of personal cars. This initiative will also enable taxi drivers to operate under the new-normal social distancing measure, thus supporting the reopening of Thailand and the overall economy of the country.
Mr. Chirute Visalachitra, Director-General of the Department of Land Transport, said this project is being carried out with the cooperation SCG Chemicals, a leading manufacturer and distributor of chemical products in Asia-Pacific, which has leveraged its expertise in materials to design and produce high-quality clear acrylic partitions for vehicles. Easy to install and compatible with both medium and large taxis currently in service, the partition has been designed such that it does not compromise visibility or affect vehicle operations or the activation of any safety system or equipment in the vehicle. The installation of these partitions has been ongoing in since September 16, 2021 and is expected to be completed for all 3,000 taxis by the end of October, 2021. Taxis outfitted with a partition will bear a sticker on the windshield to give assurance to customers and will operate at the same fare rate as regular counterparts. The Department of Land Transport will also survey customer satisfaction with the QR code on the partition in each vehicle to inform further expansion of the project.
Mr. Tanawong Areeratchakul, President of SCG Chemicals, said, 'SCG Chemicals is aware of the hardship of taxi operators and is concerned about the health of both taxi drivers and users of public transportation. Maintaining a physical distance between the driver and the passenger is the main challenge to which we must find a solution in order to enhance safety and bolster confidence in public transportation services. With our expertise and innovation, we have developed our clear SHINKOLITE acrylic sheet into a high-quality acrylic partition that can be installed inside the passenger cabin and have collaborated with the Department of Land Transport to manufacture these partitions in order to create a physical distance between the taxi driver and the passenger. These partitions will offer another layer of protection against exposure to aerosols on top of the protective gear that the driver and the passenger are already wearing, creating double protection. We believe that this project, which aims to elevate safety and confidence in the services of hire cars with a maximum capacity of seven passengers, will establish a new standard for transportation in the new-normal era as well as help stimulate the overall economy and prepare Thailand for a reopening in the future.
The high-quality transparent acrylic partitions installed in the participating taxis are set apart by the glass-like clarity, which mean that they do not compromise visibility or make the cabin feel cramped. Designed to be compatible with a wide range of vehicle models, they are also light, easy to install, safe, weather-resistant, and can be wiped down very easily with a soft towel and water, soapy water, or 70% alcohol as many times as desired.