Phnom Penh Automobile Co Ltd became the latest metered taxi operator in the capital after launching operations yesterday with 25 vehicles, aiming to fill what it says is a growing demand by the capital’s residents and visitors to use air-conditioned taxis to get around.
Thai Seila, general manager of Phnom Penh Automobile, said the taxi service will operate with 25 vehicles until June to test the market demand. It then plans to enlarge its fleet to at least 65 vehicles.
“We don’t expect to break even until we operate with at least 65 vehicles,” he said. “We don’t want to compete with other existing firms, but we want to introduce standard taxi services to travellers with good quality and a suitable price.”
Phnom Penh Automobile will charge a flag drop fee of 4,000 riel ($1) and a rate determined by distance travelled. Until April, the distance-based fee will be 1,300 riel ($0.33) per kilometre, after which it will increase to 1,600 riel ($0.40) in May and 1,800 riel ($0.46) in June. Seila noted that the firm will keep the rate below 2,000 riel per kilometre.
Drivers will be charged $10 to rent a vehicle for 24 hours for the first six months of operations and will retain all the earnings they receive from customers, according to Seila.
“Drivers are happy with the lower prices that we charge customers because they hope it will help them get many passengers and earn a good profit,” he said.
The company will use hybrid electric Toyota Prius vehicles to lower operating costs. Seila could not reveal the investment figures for the new company, though he said it had received investments from a prominent Cambodian business tycoon.
He added that the company was in full compliance with Cambodian laws for metered taxi services.
Met Measpheakdey, spokesman for Phnom Penh City Hall, said there were currently 10 taxi operators in the capital, though only a few of them were fully compliant with regulations. He explained that taxi firms are required to register with the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation and then receive a licence from City Hall authorising them to operate in the capital.
Measpheakdey said that as of yesterday, City Hall had not been contacted by Phnom Penh Automobile for approval and to obtain a licence. However, he hoped to receive their application soon, suggesting that the new operator might be unaware that it needed a licence from the municipality.
He added that the growth of the metered-taxi market was a positive sign and that more taxi companies would lead to better services and lower prices for consumers.
“To compete in the market, newcomers always bring quality services for travellers with lower prices,” he said. “I think that it will provide better options for users and provide them with more benefits.”