THE PRICE of a taxi rise could rise as much as KRW1,500 (US$1.40) this summer in Seoul to reflect the current labor conditions of taxi drivers.
On top of basic flat-rate charges being increased, taxi drivers will also be able to apply higher charges to night time journeys.
However, concerns have been raised by the Korean Taxi Workers Union and the Seoul Private Taxi Association as the drivers are worried the rise in fare may cause a loss in passenger numbers.
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“In October 2013, when the starting fare increased by rather an affordable amount from KRW2,400 to KRW3,000, the outcome caused only a brief public outcry, which soon dissipated,” the Korean Taxi Workers’ Union Seoul Office told The Korea Times in January.
Travels in Seoul are expected to be more expensive later this year. https://t.co/cQxOIwUFSV
— The Korea Times (@koreatimescokr) February 27, 2018
“If the increase gets out of proportion this time, the repercussions could be serious. It will be worse than not having initiated the measure in the first place.”
As it stands, the additional night time charges are only incurred between midnight and 4am. With the new changes to the price structuring, Seoul city hopes to encourage drivers to work later into the night, making it easier for passengers to grab a cab and get to their destination safely.
Out of the 72,000 taxis registered to run in Seoul, just under a third of them are owned by taxi companies.
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These 23,000 taxi drivers working for taxi companies are currently taking home less than the minimum wage of KRW7,530 (US$7) per hour. With the new price increase, drivers should be able to earn at least KRW500,000 (US$465) extra per month to sustain a nice quality of life.
However, many taxi operators believe this price inflation will benefit those at the top of taxi companies more so than drivers.
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“A base fare increase will give companies motivation to collect more from me. That is not going to improve my life. The city needs to put the reins on the companies so they can’t take more than KRW130,000,” Lee Kyo-Seong, a taxi driver in Seoul told The Korea Times.
However, officials deny that this proposed fare increase has a set implementation date as of yet, “Nothing has been decided on the taxi fare increase yet,” an official from Seoul City said.
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