Seoul attempts to improve taxi hailing in Gangnam

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Seoul attempts to improve taxi hailing in Gangnam

Catching a cab at night in Gangnam can be a nightmare. Finding an empty cab is the first challenge. Then, you have to convince the cabbie to take you where you want to go. Coaxing and pleading is often necessary, and sometimes even these techniques don’t work.

To make things easier, the Seoul Metropolitan Government started on Dec. 7 a new nighttime cab hailing service in Gangnam District with the Seoul Private Taxi Association and call taxi companies. The nighttime “taxi hailing support service” will operate from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and will run until the end of the month.

Here’s how it works. First, you find a government employee wearing a yellow vest labeled “taxi hailing support service” and tell the employee where you want to go. These yellow-vested employees then contact colleagues stationed at taxi stands around Gangnam. A taxi comes to pick you up.

On its debut night, however, the service didn’t work at all.

Lee Jin-seok, a 36-year old from Gyeonggi, waited in a lengthy queue for more than 20 minutes at Gangnam Station’s exit 10 on Wednesday evening.

The government employee in the yellow vest frantically - and unsuccessfully - tried getting in touch with cabs.

“How long do they plan to keep us waiting?” he asked. “I probably would have reached home by now if I caught a cab myself.” Many frustrated people abandoned the queue, crossed the street and hailed their own cabs.

Yet another cab service worker chased away an empty Gyeonggi-based cab. Gyeonggi cabs have a reputation for refusing passengers. This didn’t please the people on line who wanted to go to Gyeonggi, and they suggested the service should be renamed the “taxi hailing hindrance service.”

One problem was that taxi drivers are not aware of the new service. “The notice has not been passed around to all the call taxi drivers,” said Choi Ji-su, who works at call taxi company Dongbu Express, “So some do not know about the new system yet.”

Furthermore, the incentive to participate isn’t great for cab drivers. The Seoul Metropolitan Government promised cab drivers 1,000 won ($0.89) for accepting passengers to destinations within the city and 2,000 won for out-of-Seoul destinations.

“This is a time period with many customers,” said private taxi driver Seo Gyeong-seok, 46, “So there’s no particular reason to enter Gangnam, where they crack down on refusing passengers.”

By Jung Won-yeob, Kim Young-min []
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